Review: Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography, Orange Tree Theatre
3.0stars

Addiction: we all fall foul to it. Whether it’s shopping, food, work or porn, us humans have a magical talent for weaving our guilty habits into our everyday life until it’s as seamless as sleeping. In fact, more times than not, it becomes more important than sleeping. 

And this is the basis for Declan Greene’s play, Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Porngoraphy. First performed in the writer’s native Australia, it has found itself a home in Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre where it is being performed until the 10 August as part of the 2019 Directors’ Festival.


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The stage setting is bare and as the lights go down recorded rumblings fill the space with cries of ‘I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m boring.’  While the initial message is bleak, once the performers appear on stage they arrive with their comic awkwardness and the room quickly fills with laughter. 

One man, one woman, both 40-somethings and both addicts, they fumble through a simulation of online dating, with all it’s unnecessary exclamation marks and unreserved apologies for ignoring messages, until they’re at their extremely awkward first date.   

The Man (Matthew Douglas) spends his evenings waiting for his wife to go to bed so that he can flip open his laptop and enjoy a good hour of porn until he’s ‘‘wet and white’’. Douglas brings such a perfect blend of masculine uncertainty and honesty to the role that his pain and desire to be content is real. He does such a good job that when he mentions his desire to kill himself an involuntary awwh ascends from the audience.   

The Woman (Cate Hamer) is a shopping addict and a nurse with an ever increasing amount of uncontrollable debt. Hamer plays the part with a real sense of understanding and authenticity. Her performance is entirely believable and when she suggests her daughter’s friend “is a bitch”, we don’t doubt that it’s true. Throughout the play, the woman appears to have more depth, and Hamer’s telling of the physical argument she has with her daughter is the most difficult moment of the evening.

That is, if we exclude the final scene, where, after accepting their fates as addicted losers, having lost their jobs, their belongings and their hope, the pair kiss. Seemingly they’ve found some peace, a chance to survive together. And to prove how they’ve accepted their vulnerability, both performers strip, bare to the bone. Except, is this shocking moment necessary? Or just an attempt to offer something scandalous to match the outrageous title? Unfortunately, it feels like the latter. 

Overall, the play is honest, it’s comedic and it’s worth seeing. So often in fringe theatre the lives of 20-somethings are depicted, but with Greene’s play, there’s a chance to realise, no matter how old you are, life doesn’t get any easier. Trials and tribulations will follow us wherever we go, and we’re only one step from diverting off course. Is that a bleak message? Yes. But, like the play, our best bet is to find the comedy within and keep trudging along.

Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography is playing the Orange Tree Theatre until 10 August. For more information and tickets, see the Orange Tree Theatre website.