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Decadence


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A: Steven Berkoff Pf: 1981, London Pb: 1981 G: Com. in 14 scenes; free verse, some rhymed S: Expensive homes, opera, and restaurant, England, c.1980 C: 2 performers, playing 2m, 2fUpper-class Steve Forsyth visits his upmarket mistress Helen, but warns that his wife Sybil is having him followed by a private detective Les. Played by the same actors, Les reports to Sybil, who is lower class but rich from her father's hard work. She is having an affair with Les. Steve and Helen talk about their loveless childhoods and his homosexual experiences at public school. They leave to go to the theatre to see ‘all those dishy soldiers in the raw with cocks a-flashing everywhere |…to shock us pink and crave for more’ (almost certainly a reference to Brenton's Romans in Britain). Helen, riding on Steve's back, describes the excitement of fox-hunting; he expounds his racist views. They go to the opera and then eat until Steve is sick (‘a wonderful night!’). Les, who has been plotting to murder Steve, decides not to bother, and Sybil throws him out, celebrating her independence. Steve and Helen luxuriate in their pampered lifestyle, but ‘as the light fades they age in the results of their debauched lives’.

A: Steven Berkoff Pf: 1981, London Pb: 1981 G: Com. in 14 scenes; free verse, some rhymed S: Expensive homes, opera, and restaurant, England, c.1980 C: 2 performers, playing 2m, 2f

From the working classes of East, Berkoff turns here to the English upper classes, ‘so called by virtue of strangulated vowel tones rather than any real achievement’. While his intention is satirical, his envy seems almost as strong as his contempt.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Steven Berkoff (b. 1937) English dramatist, director, and actor


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