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Gradual Decline

The Gradual Decline of a Previously Tight Family Unit in the Face of Economic Hardship: A Comedy didn’t cross the line of good taste so much as stamp, spit and do a widdle on it. There were gags about Downs Syndrome, limbless children, and an array of other sensitive subjects. That said, it proved to be entertaining; the gags were intelligently done and stayed on the right side of the border between exposing people’s prejudices and indulging in them.

The main flaw of the production was that there didn’t seem to be an overarching theme or point to it. The premise of the play was that it was a spin on the gritty kitchen sink dramas of the 1930s, and although it was wittily done, little was done to bring much depth to the play, other than to poke fun at how stupid working class northern people are. I enjoyed it for the most part (although buoyed up a little by the pint that I’d drank on an empty stomach), though my companion liked it somewhat less, taking exception to what he perceived as its lack of depth.

Notable performers included Alex Wyman as Biff, the boy with no legs who lived in a box, and an outrageous turn from Rosie Thomson as a sexually predatory secretary. Those who were at the performance will not forget her sex scene in a hurry. Promising stuff from the Casual Violence! Troop, they definitely exhibit a deft comedy touch, though at this stage it might benefit from some nuance, depth and subtlety. The best comedy is thought provoking, and this was partly in evidence during the performance, such as the attempt to expose people’s ignorant attitudes towards disability via characters such as Jess, the daughter who has been falsely labelled as having Down’s Syndrome. However on many occasions I think they were just playing for laughs. This is perfectly fine, but I think Casual Violence! have the potential to go further than that.

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