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Steve Rogers, Andrea Gibbs, Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography Steve Rogers, Andrea Gibbs, Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography
photo Brett Boardman
This felt like being subjected to eight gigabytes of pathos in a mere 90 minutes, witnessing the rapid descent of a shopaholic and a porn addict—who meet via the net in their desperation for companionship—into sheer abjection. She’s a nurse, has two children from a now dead, violent husband and her back is giving out; she’s broke and terrified of debt collectors. He’s unhappily married, an employee in a security business and a serial user of his office computer for accessing porn, for which he is sacked. His wife kicks him out.

The man and woman both believe that they fat and ugly, and see each other in the same light. For what appears to be a cathartic resolution following mutually degrading encounters, lies and fantasisings, the two stand stark naked, confessing their failings and feelings to each other—some are banally generic, others might be revealing, but we’ll never know; in the final, less than a minute scene, she tells us he’s gone, taking the last of her money. She quietly begs us, “Please don’t make fun of me.”

Although bravely performed by Steve Rogers and Andrea Gibbs, the play appears little more than a heavily narrated sketch, the immediacy of the contact between the two characters diminished by the constant inner detailing of their circumstances and fears and their past tense reporting on their encounters while these scenes are acted out ‘present tense.’ But only a little inner life is ever glimpsed amid all the paranoia, racism and sexism. Greene refuses his characters insights or moments of true connection; their lives have not been altered in meeting each other, and there is no dignity in the woman’s final utterance—it simply compounds the pathos that overwhelms the work.

Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography has nothing to tell us about addiction, save that it’s nasty and makes social engagement even harder than usual for two already socially inept people. Declan Greene’s attempt to create a form of narrational dialogue—spoken thoughts unheard by the other character, tense shifts, brief staccato lines and lists that provide exposition and action simultaneously—is interesting but ultimately distancing.

Designer Marg Horwell’s bland, abstracted living room with its deep pile carpet, white vertical blinds (onto which are thinly projected unhelpful lines from the text) and no furniture is a vacant space in which the two mid-life characters hover, living out their crises and creating, between them, a third trauma—an impossible relationship. As for Lee Lewis’ direction, it’s likewise plain, or as critical parlance goes these days, ‘transparent.’

Griffin Theatre Company and Perth Theatre Company, Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography, writer Declan Greene, director Lee Lewis, performers Andrea Gibbs, Steve Rogers, design Marg Horwell, lighting Matthew Marshall, composer Rachael Dease; SBW Stables, Sydney, 2 May-14June

RealTime issue #122 Aug-Sept 2014 pg. web

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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