Tuesday, 13 May 2014
GRIFFIN THEATRE AND PERTH THEATRE COMPANY’S ‘EIGHT GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY’ dissected by us
This is one of those reviews where two of us got to see the show and so as to get a double opinion on the effect of the performance, we both took it upon ourselves to write a response. Here they are below:
Sometimes you see a play where you come out acknowledging that it was really good and utterly believable but that there were parts of the subject or characters you didn’t like because the reality presented makes you angry- angry at the fact that it’s exploring a hard truth and an ugly desperation and disconnection of life, love and the sexes. ‘Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography’ was one of those shows.
Declan Greene, from Sisters Grimm fame, has created something raw in this play, hereby known as ‘8 Gig’ (on a side note, I can only imagine Currency Press are having conniptions working with the play’s title in print and marketing). Whilst the play engages its audience and directly interacts with it, ‘8 Gig’ deals firmly with our two characters, Male (Steve Rodgers) and Female (Andrea Gibbs) and how they distract themselves from their own inadequacies or their inability to communicate their needs. Whilst ‘Male’ uses pornography to avoid reality or the breakdown of his marriage, ‘Female’ uses impulse shopping and in the process, amasses a huge credit card debt.
But that’s not what makes this play sad. What affected me most was that each was incapable of loving themselves or each other and when they do finally come together, it’s like a cyclone meeting a tsunami- a complete destruction of their own tenuous links on reality. It can only make them worse. Further to this, the idea that someone else can fill the great emptiness in the cavernous hollow of self-hate, lost hopes and desperation was so real in its black humour that the laugh is lost in the horror. I know people like this. Hell, I might be someone like this. This is not as funny as it should be. When Female says, “And this is the moment where I ask myself: Are you so completely lonely…are you so completely, totally desolate…that you will shelter this fat, miserable liar? That you will risk your safety, and the safety of your children, just for the chance to grow close to someone? The answer: Yes. A thousand times yes” I judge them. I judge everyone like this. I think ‘How stupid are you?’ Yet, we’ve all been there. It’s when vulnerability meets insanity. And ‘8 Gigs’ exposes it all.
Director Lee Lewis has captured Greene’s words and given them the power to affect me and her audience to invest in these characters, even if I hate them. Whilst I thought Gibbs was great, I couldn’t help but see Rodgers as more playing himself than his character. There’s always a line between the actor showing me how clever he is and just getting on with doing it. I thought Gibbs was more inside her role or committed to her character than Rodgers was his.
Structurally I don’t think you needed to give me the scene numbers in production but in some ways I was relieved to know that we were advancing in the story so I didn’t have to dwell in each episode of misery too long before coming to terms with the next one.
This play makes me want to punch someone. It particularly makes me want to slap these characters into reality and given that I already know I’m watching artifice, that’s a good thing, right? For me to feel this way after theatre? Whatever its effect on you, see it with a friend so you’ve got someone to talk to about it later and think about what it’s really saying about our saviour complex, the great emptiness of existence and its distractions and our deep-seated and crippling insecurities.
I was nervous when the play started and the house lights were still up. I felt exposed, the actors could see me. When they addressed the audience they weren't talking to a flood light and some vague movement in the darkness, they were speaking directly to my face. It was unnerving. I am so accustomed to hiding in the darkness watching while removed, but the fourth wall was truly broken and I felt naked.
Like Bono hides behind his rose-tinted glasses, these characters hid behind their internet avatars. The script tells no lies- well it tells plenty of lies but they are the lies we tell ourselves everyday and so there is truth in them at the very core. The audience and the actors were exposed on stage with a minimalist set designed by Marg Horwell. Vertical blinds tinkled gently, frame wall-to-wall shag-pile carpet. I can almost hear the blow-flies' final death rattles on the window sills. A man (Steve Rogers) and a woman (Andrea Gibbs) turn to the internet for vices to help them forget. The man, internet porn and the woman, binge shopping.
They meet on an internet dating site, and we watch their lives spiral as they refuse to face reality, sinking deeper and deeper into their cyber avatars trying to forget their flaws and mistakes.
I enjoyed the performances, I thought they were real and raw. This is definitely a comedy. A dark comedy, but still a comedy. I laughed as much as I was horrified, which I think was Greene's intention. I am not quite sure if the voice-over counting up the scenes was necessary. I didn't really understand its purpose. Perhaps I missed something.
I really enjoyed this piece, but it scared me.