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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

The Degenerates

Ribcaged Productions

Genre: Drama

Venue: C Venues


Low Down

 Marcus and Beth are two complete strangers and have just one hour to consummate their new-found relationship. Committed into rehab, they succumb to the inevitable rather than face sinister consequences before their time runs out.


Mmmm! Well what is to be made of this? “Set in a “dystopian regime” (I had to check in the Oxford English Dictionary for that .- ‘Evil’ is a shorter and non- too far-off synonymous word).
THE DEGENERATES captures the desire, longing, sexual tensions and intense emotion linked to control and freedom…” What? “Taking inspiration from the memoirs of a holocaust survivor and having researched the treatment of the gay minority in communities around the world….” Two words spring immediately to mind about this production: Soft Porn. Either I have completely missed the rather high-falluting claims made in the publicity splurge — “Their sexually charged experiences and arguments force them to face a dark reality”, “Their only way out is to trust one another”… and have a xxxk. Which eventually they do, and the two, very good actors, do it well. 

I’m sorry, but for me this piece was just Soft Porn dressed up in Long Words. Dramatically the play held up: my attention did not flag. The characters, I think largely because of good acting rather than clear, sound argument, were believable and real. In a clinical environment a thirty year old man awaits the arrival of what turns out to be a seriously disturbed woman of a similar age. It becomes clear pretty quickly that she’s about as frigid as they come. It’s also clear that he intends to have his way with her for her own good of course. Virgin he may be, but one gets the feeling that lack of previous opportunity rather than troublesome genes is the reason. If true, he looked pretty experienced to me.

His repeated protestations that he “was nervous too” didn’t convince me for a moment: it was pretty obvious he was some sort of therapist and couldn’t wait to get down to the job. Maybe it was just for the money. Given the far from clear argument they had to expound, Sian Hill and Daniel Street Brown did a very good job; good performers making sense out of nonsense? “I crafted a piece that I felt could portray the violent treatment” (of gay minorities in communities around the world) “and I hope that it will bring into question peoples values and beliefs”. I’m sorry, I think that’s expecting a lot from this play and the frankly amateurish back wall flat with meaningless pictures and a clever clock that went backwards, didn’t help. For me it was nothing more or less than well performed, but not very imaginatively directed or staged soft porn. The audience reaction was certainly questioning as they left the theatre — “What was that all about?”