Suzanne Rath

In the year of Margaret Thatcher’s death, this rare production of a satire written at the height of her reign is a welcome one.

In the year of Margaret Thatcher’s death, this rare production of Decadence, a satire written at the height of her reign, is a timely and welcome one.

Steven Berkoff’s play contains two actors, two couples and two affairs.

Steve, the husband of Sybil, is an ex-private school toff engaged in an affair with Helen. He spends much of his time complaining of boredom, pleading for sex, and describing how he spent his school days dabbling in homosexuality. Helen engages in self-indulgent monologues as she parades about draped in a long black dress and expensive looking jewellery. The couple show that traits such as pride and greed are alive and well as they pursue their lifestyle of sexual games, high society dinners and excessive alcohol consumption.

Meanwhile, Steve’s wife Sybil is in a relationship with Les, the private investigator she hired to pursue her philandering husband. With his cockney accent and ‘geezer’ behaviour, Les is most definitely from the opposite end of the class spectrum. Their encounters consist mostly of awkward intercourse and discussions on how to dispose of Steve.

Together, both stories intertwine in a hilarious series of rhyming monologues.

Featuring a number of references to the celebrities of the day, including Charles and Diana as well as the infamous Thatcher, Decadence is a vitriolic study of the British class system. Nobody escapes judgement, lashed out at by the characters’ acerbic tongues. Featuring the hair, the music and the money associated with the Eighties, Decadence brings 1981 to life, while maintaining its relevance a generation later. Lachlan Edwards facilitates the transition between scenes using simple lighting and music as effortlessly as actors Rowan McDonald (Steve/Les) and Katherine Shearer (Helen/Sybil) switch between characters. Rowan McDonald has previously performed in a production of Decadence, but this is his first time to play both male characters and he is excellent in the roles. The intimate venue of the TAP Gallery is also perfect for such a quirky show.


Decadence isn’t suitable for children, and it won’t appeal to everyone. However as a Fringe show it is highly impressive theatre and tickets should be in demand.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.


APRIORI projects presents


By Steven Berkoff

Produced by Rowan McDonald

Lighting Design: Lachlan Edwards

Cast: Rowan McDonald, Katherine Shearer


TAP Art Gallery and Theatre, Darlinghurst

9 - 15 September


Sydney Fringe

6 – 29 September


What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Suzanne is a Sydney based writer, producer and co- founder of Idle Wrath Films. She tweets as @Suzowriting