[2014027] The Darker

[2014027] The Darker

David Daradan & Martin Christmas @ Bakehouse Theatre – Studio

9:00pm, Tue 18 Feb 2014

Even though I’m adamant that the pieces that I post on this blog aren’t really “reviews”, I still feel like I should mention something up-front when talking about The Darker: I consider writer/director Martin Christmas a friend. He’s certainly been very supportive of me (and is always encouraging me – not that it’s necessary – to write honestly), and that’s something I really appreciate… but I have to admit that it made me a little anxious about seeing the show. How would I react – or, more pointedly, what would I write – if I didn’t like the show? Or, worse, thought it was trite?

Luckily, that wasn’t an issue.

David Daradan plays Dave the Demonstrator in this one-man play; a stubborn man of many vices, all of which are exposed as he picks away at his life. It’s clear that Dave is struggling to deal with the loss of his parents and his partner, but that doesn’t excuse the final act of betrayal he enacted on his girlfriend (betting his mates that they wouldn’t grope her breasts), nor any of his other issues. He’s just a Man – a complicated, broken, lost Man, unable to cope with the expectations placed on him… both by others, and himself.

Of course, Dave the Demonstrator’s name contains the word “demon” – and he indeed wrestles with his demons throughout The Darker. They present as other Men, all contributors to his current existence; most of them reveal aspects of being a Man that we should be ashamed or frightened of. The few moments that aren’t uncomfortably close-to-the-bone – a glimpse of a Tender Man, a Loving Man, or some fragments of humour – are fleeting, and often backhanded in their presence; this is pretty unrelenting stuff.

One of the great things about seeing shows with my Event Buddy is that she always prefers to sit as close as possible to the performance; and so I found myself sitting almost directly under Daradan’s chin as he bellows through his deconstruction of Man. And so, as Dave shifts from one adopted persona to another (Couch Potato Man and Masturbating Man were most identifiable… though I’m afraid of what that says about me) and he loudly – often viciously – berates himself, we were often splattered with sweat… but we were also privy to a performance that always seemed to be teetering on the edge.

This was raw and brutal theatre, that asked for no concessions – and was certainly not going to grant any to the audience. There’s a bitter, almost grimly reluctant, honesty to both the text and the performance that makes Dave utterly unlikeable… but that’s something that actually resonates with me. I loved the bleakness of Dave’s character; I loved Daradan’s blustering portrayal of him. And, most of all, I love the fact that Christmas dared to make such a reprehensible character the centre of attention: that shows a bravery that must be respected. Kudos, gentlemen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *