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Adelaide Fringe 2011

Berkoff in Two Acts

Caveat Theatre Company

Genre: Short Plays


Worldsend Hotel (upstairs), 208, Hindley Street, Adelaide


Low Down


Berkoff liberates the thoughts of the subconscious and paints an exceptionally vivid picture for the audience with his rich tapestry of words and turn of phrase. In Dog a violent yob and his dog unapologetically justify their violent actions and beliefs. It is a sub culture that is rarely explored in such an exceptional manner—it both entertains and provides a commentary into ubiquitous themes of masculinity, loyalty, racism and expression. Lunch illustrates the complications of relationships and temptations that manifest themselves in different ways.



When the English yob strides onto the stage cussing and dragging his pit bull terrier, Roy, the audience knows immediately they are in for a powerfully intense and unique performance. Jonathan Bragg, the director and actor in the opening act, gives a powerfully passionate and plausible performance. He challenges the audience, gesticulates wildly, speaks confidently and articulates Berkoff’s dialogue impeccably. Bragg also enunciates Roy’s thoughts occasionally demonstrating the affectionate and fierce relationship between them. Tom and Mary then take the audience through the minds of a man and woman who are attracted to each other but fear the possibilities and outcomes that could come out of such an enticement. Tom’s frivolity and fanaticism contrast starkly with Mary’s cautious but curious nature as the two of them admire the seascape before them, arguing, harmonising, and suppressing themselves.
Steven Berkoff’s dialogue is vibrant with depiction and his command over language is remarkable, if prolonged and biased towards some characters. The repartee between the couple was entertaining as was the yob’s narratives—the letdown was the ongoing monologues and constant backdrop. The yob’s winding narrative would have been more entertaining and comprehensible if the lighting was adjusted accordingly and appropriate props employed. Dog could have also been lengthened in dialogue as it was an interesting depiction and engaging piece. Lunch was also flawlessly performed by Lydia Nicholson and Cameron Pike, however a soundtrack with background sounds that complemented the changing moods in the piece would have provoked more reaction from the audience.
Berkoff in Two Acts is a stunning example of expression and language. The metaphors, alliteration, and vivid imagery was woven together to create a medley of horror and wonder. It is difficult to react to the underlying messages and themes in the proper manner because of the lyrical language and poetry in the dialogue. Combined with seamless performances it is a unique piece of theatre that elicits a range of conflicting emotions while entertaining at the same time.