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Review: Demagogue at Holden Street Theatre - ADL Fringe

Review by Kate Gaul 


Returning after its premiere season at the 2022 Adelaide Fringe, “Demagogue” is a text based, narrative drama, promoted as a social and political satire from SA theatre collective Safari Street Creative. Founders Spencer Scholz and Samantha Riley perform this play.


“Demagogue” is a two hander whose characters are public figures. Chris, an ambitious government politician aiming to be premier one day, and Kate, a no-nonsense marketing exec, are an unhappily married power couple. The play opens with the couple sitting in the waiting room of an exclusive school’s offices.  Their daughter has engaged in something terrible, some vandalism, and it needs discussion with the principal. They don’t know what has motivated her behaviour – could it be a revenge strategy, a protest, a plea for revolution. Or a mindless prank?  Whatever it is, these parents must face the consequences and figure out how to spin the story once it becomes public. Winning is all and although motivations are murky, Chris and Kate will do whatever it takes.  


Frankly, these are abhorrent characters who are prepared to through the nameless and (it is revealed, unwanted) daughter under a bus.


This is a real taking heads piece.  There is no director credited and the production may benefit from an outside eye.  The endless shouting between two static actors with little variation in pace and tone makes for a relentless hour. It’s possible that’s the point but it’s a far cry from the oft-quoted comparisons to Aaron Sorkin and lacks the nuance of performance that supports our understanding of the shifting grounds in the arguments presented. 


As a fly-on-the-wall experience observing two political animals tearing each other apart it’s a ride for sure and it great to see local SA theatre writing and productions supported by this great theatre for fringe!


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