Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography | Perth Theatre CompanyLeft – Steve Rodgers and Andrea Gibbs. Photo – Brett Boardman

It's disturbing, it's distressing, it's an in-your-face dark comedy that makes you nervous and at the same time grateful for the good things in your life. This is Decan Greene’s new Australian work called Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography. It sounds fun and in many cases it is funny, but often in an uncomfortable way.

It tells the tale of two 40-year-olds whose lives are both caught in a downward spiral. Andrea Gibbs plays a single mum caught in a debt trap, a shopaholic who turns to spending like an alcoholic turns to booze. The other character, played by Steve Rodgers, has lost interest in his aging wife and instead turned to pornography which he leans on heavily like a crutch.

From the minute the audience enters the auditorium they're greeted by a very sparse set and our characters are already pacing the stage while eye-balling audience members. The auditorium is well lit, there's no escape. If the actors feel vulnerable playing their roles, equally does the audience who are never given the chance to relax, because the lights are never dimmed. For the next 70 minutes there's a lock out, sure you can leave the auditorium if you have to, but you're warned you won't be let back in. So strap yourself in and start watching the tennis match action as the characters take turns delivering their lines and unravelling their stories.

We soon realise that the protagonists are bored, lonely and isolated. They can't find happiness within – no matter how much they long for and dream of it. So instead they look for someone else to break the pattern of their bleak existence. It's a recipe for disaster. They find themselves on a dating website and continually facing rejection until, as desperate as one another, they meet and arrange an awkward first meeting.  

Watching Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography is like been forced to look at yourself in a harshly lit change-room mirror where every wrinkle, blemish and bump is magnified, launching you into despair. Everything our protagonists look for in one another, they fail to deliver. We are forced to see the ugly side of human nature. They are like two pieces of flotsam on a massive ocean, clinging to a tiny life-raft in hope of salvation. Unable to find a better offer they take what little they can get, squeezing out the tiniest amount of affection they can from one another. This is not a love story, this is a make-do story.

What amazes me most is how 29-year-old Greene manages to look deeply into the psyche of someone in their 40s. It's a very different stage of life, yet he can see with clarity what life looks like through the lens of someone older.

This piece takes great courage to perform. You can see why Gibbs and Rodgers had to do some soul searching before they accepted these roles. Knowing my own reaction to this play I can imagine what it takes to recover from a performance such as this. It must be mentally exhausting especially when you're touring and performing for several months. Gibbs and Rodger are left exposed, not just figuratively but literally, (a word of warning for those who find brief, but full-frontal nudity too intense).

Despite its dark and depressing themes this show is popular, as witnessed by its opening night audience who showed their appreciation with raucous applause. Its success can be likened to that of the 1999 movie American Beauty which shared parallel themes. The movie, like this play, was about a yearning for youth, respect, power, beauty and freedom. American Beauty blitzed the 72nd Academy Awards winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (for Kevin Spacey), Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Will the parallel between these two artistic creations go beyond the parallel themes? Could this be the beginning of many (more) awards and critical acclaim for Greene?


Perth Theatre Company and Griffin Theatre Company present
Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography
by Declan Greene

Director Lee Lewis

Venue: Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA
Dates: 2 July – 12 July, 2014
Bookings: 1300 795 012 | www.ticketek.com.au



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