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Live! - Culture

Sexual Perversity at Imperial

Mar 19 2003 01:16
Simon Rawson
ICU Dramsoc present David Mamet?s ?Sexual Perversity in Chicago? all this week in the Union Concert Hall.
The Sexual Perverts...

This short, modern piece of American theatre centres on the social and sex lives of four characters: Bernie (Matthew Holdgate), Dan (Daniel Stokeley), Deborah (Winnie Yu) and Joan (Laine Harper). We see the self-confident, somewhat arrogant Bernie, trying to wow Dan with tales of unseen lovers and advise him, while it is the quieter, simpler Dan who has more success in his relationships. Defensive, unsure Deborah allows herself to be drawn away from the comfortable life with her flatmate Joan into this relationship, but soon returns after things start going wrong. Joan herself is a bitter, sarcastic, hardened woman who has no time for relationships.

Mamet strikes an superb balance between sharp, observational comedy and the somewhat sinister underlying causes of the ?Sexual Perversity? we see ? from Bernie?s molestation as a child, to Dan?s fooling around with other boys when he was younger. The jokes are somewhat sick, the language is fairly foul, but all appropriate to the piece.

Director, Jen Metcalf, has made the brave decision to bring the piece from 1970s Chicago to modern day London and, while there is no reason that the piece should be any less relevant, it isn?t entirely satisfactory. The accents vary from American to Cockney with no real justification, making it difficult to place the action and, more seriously, the rhythmic flow of Mamet? script is almost entirely lost when it is translated into English dialects. As with much modern theatre, the dialogue is very much conversational, and requires the correct rhythm, timing, intonation and accent to work at its best.

Having said that, Matthew Holdgate gave a convincing performance as Bernie and his worked well in the modern day London setting. Laine Harper was also superb as Joan. Her natural American accent, subtle and well-observed emotions, and comic timing made her a pleasure to watch on stage. Particularly notable was her scene in the playground, explaining to young children why it was wrong to play doctors and nurses ? excellent!

The show has a number of very funny moments and audience members will struggle to stop themselves laughing out loud at numerous inappropriate or twisted jokes. My personal favourite involved a female, her dog, some dog food and? well, I?ll leave the rest to your imagination.

The staging of the production deserves credit. This is the second show in the concert hall this term to be staged in the round - stage in the middle, audience round the sides. The show works extremely well like this and the set, seating and lighting design were all superbly executed by the Dramsoc team. With the exception of one or two unnecessarily slow scene changes, I could not fault this aspect of the production.

All in all, a very entertaining 80 minute show? students should love its sense of humour.

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Discussion about “Sexual Perversity at Imperial”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Sam   
Mar 19 2003 11:44


this mutual backscratching is great!

A member of DramSoc reviews an MTSoc Show, and then a member of MTSoc reviews a dramsoc show

2. Phil   
Mar 19 2003 12:16

Yeah, it's not like the Union's incestuous or anything is it...

3. Nia   
Mar 19 2003 12:19

It's called cooperation you bloody cynics!

Mar 19 2003 13:19

Makes a change from a Guilds-y person praising Guilds from some stupid pseudonym. Perhaps Guilds should do a backscratching deal with the Medics?

5. links   
Mar 19 2003 14:39

Sam, you forgot to put a nnother link to the wonderful DramSoc Website where you can find out more about this production, amongst others.

6. Simon   
Mar 19 2003 16:53

Ah well, who cares if it is mutual backsratching? Anything that raises the profile of the superb Arts societies here at ICU has got to be good. If the article manages to attract a few more audience members to the show, then it has been a success.

Mar 19 2003 21:25

Yeah, my set kicks ass. Though you didn't get to see the colour changing bedside cabinet.

Mar 19 2003 21:36

the seating arrangements quite good in the round, well aslong as your not the one who has to put it away.

Mwah ha ha ha haaaaa

9. Tim   
Mar 19 2003 23:22

I really want to act. Any role for me in the future?

The whole EE Drama Soc Crew is just techie ppl. :-(

I can do impersonation and some comedy!

10. Sunil   
Mar 19 2003 23:22 ?

"spic" means something quite nasty in the US. Not a word one wants to throw around lightly...

11. Nia   
Mar 20 2003 10:41

Tim, check and look out for posters in the autumn term (and _maybe_ next term if anybody's got the time to direct during the exam period) or possibly even

Mar 20 2003 11:12

Well, despite Mr Blair's best efforts to emulate the US in every way possible, we're not in the US, we're in the UK...

Or are we so americanised now that is it OK for me to refer a fanny pack (rather than a bum bag) and I WON'T be greated with hysterical laughter? (A real shame)

I hope that if I now say I am signing off because I need to feed my pussy, people will think about me getting out a can of Whiskas and putting it out for tiddles, my persian cat, to eat and nothing at all depraved...

13. Simon   
Mar 20 2003 14:08

he he he... FANNY PACK... ha ha ha!!!

14. Source   
Mar 20 2003 14:20

Arts may be great at ICU, but it may well be a thing of the past if council and exec accept the outcomes the Arts and Ents Budget Advisory Group meeting last night, my sources allege.

Dramsoc is set to lose all of its ?800 copyright material hire (pays to hire the plays), Orchestra has had music hire slashed from ?1800 to ?900. In fact, its a pretty grim outlook all round, unless you are in Jazz Big Band - who have secured healthy amounts of money. (Someone obviously likes their free concerts in dBs...)

Maybe all Arts and Ents societies should start doing FREE events, and claiming from the Union... or maybe the union should wake up and realising that there really IS no point hoarding a million pounds in its accounts for a 'rainy day'. If every day spent waiting is miserable.

I challenge the new team of sabs to turn a union with a miserly outlook into one which actually invests its assets...

15. alex C   
Mar 20 2003 19:17

Source - Your sources may well be correct.

It should be remembered that it is the Budget 'Advisory' Group, and all their figures will have to be ratified later on. We - at Felix - are going to try and organise some sort of coordinated response from all the clubs who feel hard done by after the BAG meetings to ensure that all points of view are considered before funding is allocated, so look out for publicity next term if this applies to you.

16. Mike   
Mar 21 2003 01:10

Much of what source says is accurate, however this has to be taken in context with how everyone else was treated at BAG. Having attended several of the BAG meetings as an observer I would argue that arts has been cut no more than any other body.

Last year the Union spent ?330,000 funding clubs and societies. This year they received budget applications totalling ?500,000 but BAG only has ?300,000 to allocate this year. With an increase in the number of clubs it doesn't take a genius to realise that individual clubs will be getting less money than they did last year.

Cuts have been made to all budgets of a similar order of magnitude. No particular group has been 'picked on' anymore than another.

The members of BAG have a very difficult job in that they have to cut 40% off what the clubs and socs asked for to meet the funding available next year. Many of these people are also volunteers who have given freely of their time to carry out this difficult task.

17. Mike   
Mar 21 2003 01:27

I should also add that many items that clubs lost from their budgets were directly related to events.

It is Union policy that all events where tickets are charged must self fund.

So the Union will not fund performance rights, posters to advertise an event, music duplication costs etc. if it is only for an event where tickets are charged.

However, if all clubs decided to run free events then there would still be the same funding available to give out. By charging tickets clubs can provide greater money to put on an event than the union can provide.

I believe orchestra(s) retained some copyright material hire funding as the music is used for rehearsals as well as the performance. As play rights are clearly only neccessary for a performance which is an event these were lost.

BAG also looks at the spending history of clubs over the past 5 years. many clubs lost money from categories because they consistently fail to spend all of it. This unspent money is tied up until the end of the financial year though it may well be better utilised by another club.

Oh and BAG did not fund the Jazz Big Band concerts I believe they have a good arrangement with the bar instead (beer for the band and the bar pay for posters I think). Jazz Big Band were given money to buy the rest of the equipment they need to operate as they are essentially a new club.

18. Rich V   
Mar 23 2003 07:50

Ah, now I do have to say something now. Not wishing to turn this discussion into a "lets bitch about our clubs not getting money" forum there are some things that don't make sense.

Clubs haven't been cut by 40%. Spending history hasn't really been looked at in any serious way. Sure, if I ask for more for next year I get asked politely to stick my head in a bucket and then they give me half of what I got last year, BUT if I go to bag with a club that has asked for 60% of what it got last year, BAG are not content, they will not accept that clubs might have asked for only the money they need and their budget submission includes several cuts. They just cut anyway. This has happened at least once at every BAG meeting I have attended. WHY?

If a club recognises that it is going to be cut, and so recommends places for it to be cut from is that not enough? Should you really cut clubs to the point that they can't survive anymore? Especially given the massive sunk costs behind some Arts/Ents/Media type clubs?

This is a fairly empty comment. Moderate me down to -1 (flaimbait) :)

19. Source   
Mar 23 2003 11:05

Er. I agree with you partially Rich, to some extent it does appear that BAG have not considered the budget submissions and information very carefully. At least with A&E it seems very much as if they went through looking for nice amounts to cut out. e.g. If a club had requested ?300 for CatA and ?50 for CatB, then they will strike off the ?300 for CatA and leave them the ?50 for CatB. Surely the sensible thing to do would be to give ?40 to CatA and ?10 to CatB.

BAG seems to have been uninterested in what clubs actually asked for money *for*. It leads me to think that there is an optimal way you could breakdown the amounts you ask for to ensure the minimum cuts by BAG.

More seriously, it means that clubs will have a blatent disregard for budget categories and will end up spending money across categories, leaving the union finance department with very poor information.

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