Berkoff in Two Acts – Adelaide Fringe 2011 • Glam Adelaide

Berkoff in Two Acts – Adelaide Fringe 2011

Two short plays and three fine performances and, in the intimate space, up close and almost too personal for comfort.


Presented by Caveat Theatre Company
Reviewed Thursday 10th March 2011

Venue: Worldsend Hotel (upstairs), 208 Hindley Street, Adelaide.
Season: 7pm to Sat 12th March 2011
Duration: 45mins
Tickets: adults $15/conc $12
Bookings: Fringe TIX outlets or

Two short pieces by Steven Berkoff make up this performance. The first piece, Dog, performed and directed by Jonathon Bragg, takes us back to Thatcher’s Britain, where we meet a foul-mouthed football hooligan in a team shirt and his vicious pit bull terrier, Roy. Roy has attacked a young boy causing serious damage to his head and face. The man is unconcerned at the behaviour of his dog and blames the boy for opening the back door of his unlocked van, allowing Roy to escape.

The man enters into a diatribe covering a range of topics from Roy’s penchant for out of date pork pies, complete with the cellophane wrapper, to buying car parts, to racist attacks. He is interrupted occasionally by Roy, also played by Bragg, who threatens to attack him if he pulls on that lead just one more time.

Bragg gives a commanding performance, although the heavily choreographed movement wore a little thin by the end. He slipped easily between master and dog and drew the comparisons between them clearly. By the end of the piece, one could not help feeling that the owner should be put down, along with the dog.

The second piece, Lunch, also directed by Bragg, finds a woman sitting on a park bench noticing, and being noticed by a man passing by. Mary is a bored housewife, Tom is a frustrated salesman who peddles advertising space. They begin innocently enough with an inane conversation about the weather and the sea, as they eat their lunches. The conversations and relationships deepen and darken. He becomes overbearing, demanding and insistent. She feigns resistance. He weakens. There is a continual shift in dynamics. At the end there is awkwardness.

Where Berkoff’s language was dense in the first piece it is often sparse in the second, sometimes just a string of words, yet nonetheless powerful and evocative. Cameron Pike and Lydia Nicholson, as Tom and Mary, build a complex web of shifting power and internal dialogues, showing insecurities and desires.

Two short plays and three fine performances and, in the intimate space, up close and almost too personal for comfort. There is no chance to sit back and stay aloof from these pieces, they force you to become involved. Try to catch them before the Fringe comes to an end.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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