Desperate Optimists, Indulgence

Review in Issue 9-1 | Spring 1997

Desperate Optimists are an Irish company who, on the strength of this show, appear to be deeply inspired by Forced Entertainment. Which happens to be a good rather than a bad thing.

The setting is familiar. A darkly funny, bleak, urban landscape filled with the verbal and musical detritus of our ‘decaying culture’. But it is in their role as the much ‘younger’ of the two companies (both in outlook and origins) that Desperate Optimists eventually come into their own. If you compare Indulgence with Forced Entertainment’s Showtime, the similarities and differences become especially clear. Indulgence is like watching a pantomime on acid. Showtime is more like an acidic pantomime. The underlying tone of the former is ironic rather than cynical; the music uplifting house rather than melancholia. Both shows use microphones as alienating, disassociative devices and both open with extremely funny monologues about the nature of performance – in Showtime, however, the performer has a timebomb strapped to his midriff as a sharp nod to mortality whilst here he is naked and it all turns out to be the result of some practical joke.

Ultimately, the performers in Desperate Optimists resemble children’s TV presenters losing it in a rave club. Both companies present equally valid portraits of the same generation. Leslie Hill deserves special mention as the wonderful Laurie Anderson clone.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-1
p. 24