Demise was its own demise. Its blurb promised to ‘challenge […] views of prostitution.’ It could have been a sensitive, well-informed, empathetic theatrical exploration of sex-work that debunked the prejudices so frequently assigned it. It was none of these things. It wasn’t even the ‘black comedy’ by which it self-identified.

Demise needs to go back to the drawing board before it emerges for performance again.

As the audience walked in, the performers dotted the stage, underwear-clad and heavily made-up, flicking through choreographed movements that physically demonstrated the employment of the women here characterised. I couldn’t help but hope that this was not just an opportunity for attractive young girls to prance around stage half naked. However, that hope was to be thwarted, because it never became much more than this. The performers, and the company in general, fell into the easy trap of thinking that swearing lots and being as profane as possible equalled humour – which it doesn’t. It is not even shocking, or interesting. It’s just crass, unless done with a knowing wit and quick tongue.

The writing was not only excessively and unnecessarily rude, it was also clunky. Devised theatre will often come up against this criticism – hell, even writing at the Royal Court sometimes has bizarre plot devices included in a frantic attempt to draw the play to its close – but conversations in Demise came from nowhere, and never went any further. Nor did they escape cliché. Oh, a sex worker who ‘wasn’t always like this’ and was once her parents’ darling, only to be swept up in a drug addiction, and who suddenly feels the need to confess all this to the conveniently-included new girl in the brothel, towards whom she had previously displayed evident dislike? Sure. A grieving father and his rebellious, sex-worker daughter? Original.

Scene changes were sloppily done in blackouts, and actors were never entirely comfortable onstage. Demise needs to go back to the drawing board before it emerges for performance again.

Reviews by Alice Carlill

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The Blurb

Challenge your views of prostitution as you follow the heart-wrenching emotional struggles of a grieving husband and daughter, and discover the secrets behind the curtains in this black comedy. Maybe you only know half the story.