Adelaide Fringe: Decadence

Decadence. Image Supplied
Decadence. Image Supplied

It’s awesome to see two actors work well together, share the space appropriately, bounce off of each other and come up equal in regards to vitality and oomph.  Katherine Shearer and Rowan McDonald do so, very well. They are fine and energetic performers.

They have not chosen an easy piece. Actors with less energy could easily fall flat with this one, as it takes a non-stop approach to carry us along all the way through. They succeed; we stay with them.

Decadence is about two couples, one very rich and the other very poor. It is a series of progressing scenes which speedily unravel the lives before us and make bold statements about the advantaged and the disadvantaged in England.

There are lots of jibes about class, heaps of below the belt games dripping in sex and lust, and all types of sleazy endeavours, all of which expose human nature be it in the  bedroom or at social gatherings. There are some very funny moments, particularly from the wealthy couple.  Theirs is a life of anything goes for a bit of entertainment and fun between the sheets and these scenes are hilarious.

On a more serious note Decadence makes comments about the Thatcher era in Britain and the ever-growing divide between wealth and poverty; low living and high life.

I’m a Berkoff fan, but (for me) this is not one of his greatest works. While I love the class war and the over the top sleaze stuff, and the stories of the two quite bizarre couples’ lives before us are amusing, shocking and at times too close for comfort, the “written in verse” nature of the piece, (particularly the cringe-factor rhyme, is at times wearing. The actors do an almighty job of working against the rhyme, sometimes they fall victim to its tedium, and our interest falls with them.

Many dramatists have played with rhyme at some unfortunate stage of their career, myself included, and it is more often than not a big mistake; this time it certainly is.

Despite this, the two actors on this very British ride, have the opportunity of showing us their vast range and talent and they do succeed with the piece. It’s well worth getting along to Holden Street Theatres to go on this fun and pacey journey with them.

Stephen House

Stephen is a writer with numerous plays, exhibitions and short films produced. He has been commissioned often and directs and performs his work. He has won two AWGIE Awards from The Australian Writers Guild and an Adelaide Fringe Award (as well as more), and has received several international literature residencies. Stephen has been Artistic Director of many events. He has been performing his acclaimed solo show, “Appalling Behaviour” nationally from 2010 – 2014 (100 shows to date). Stephen has 2 new works in development.

Stephen House

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