The boys are in black tie, the girls in diaphanous dresses. They chuck back whisky with alcoholic aplomb as they dance their way through a balletic take on the ‘bash the Bullingdon’ genre. Inspired by Laura Wade’s Posh, six dancers from Theatre With Teeth enact the story of a weekend in the life of a morally corrupt group of upper class kids. The boys throw themselves at the girls, the girls at the boys. They are all rude to the maid.
Staging is minimal: just a table and four chairs that look polished and expensive. Classical music begins each scene – Bach’s ‘Ich Ruf Zu Dir’, a Chopin prelude – and then quickly twists into a trance or dubstep remix. Just like the characters, beneath a civilised veneer is something raw. The repetitive music is muddied by distortion that rattles the roof and the lighting rig. When the music gets quieter the scrapes and clumping footfalls of the performers are very audible. There is something dull and slow about their movements. The group lacks the physical force and unity that could give the performance more bite. Much of their movement seems to serve no narrative purpose, neither moving the story forward nor revealing something about the characters. It seems like clunky filler.
There is little sense of character, little attempt to explore the amorality of these rich kids, not much meaning – except for one scene in which the boy who previously mocked another for being gay suddenly leans in for a kiss. The two of them (Michael Reece, Henry Cox) dance in a frenzied, intimate way, seemingly fuelled by the thrill of what they are doing. The rest of the performance fails to keep up with this burst of energy.
Nothing here has not already been said, even if Theatre With Teeth is attempting to express these trite themes through a different medium. But Dirty Decadence needs more precision to ensure that the cast is in sync, more depth to expose something about upper class amorality that we haven’t seen and heard before, and a bit less filler.
Dirty Decadence is at C nova (Venue 145) until 22 August. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.