Definitely uneasy and unsettling viewing, ‘Thief’ embraces all the elements of what used to make the Fringe so very vital: coy sexiness, nudity and exotic subjects exploring the demimonde. Written by Liam Rudden and performed by Matt Robertson ‘Thief’ is based on the tales of Jean Genet and in Particular ‘Quenelle De Brest’, a fact highlighted by the main character being referred to throughout as Sailor. Definitely Robertson gives a taut and brave performance- a lot of nudity is involved- which allows for silences in the dialogue which merely adds potency to the script rather than any sense of hesitation.
Sailor lives a life away from the gentility of society, earning-if that is the right term- a living as a rent boy who stalks his quarry then dissuades them of their money, jewellery and anything else of value; sometimes using violence and at others merely the threat of violence or, worse, exposure. Occasional dips into his past allow us a glimpse of hiw things got this way for Sailor, revealing a dysfunctional relationship with his mother and a sexual relationship with his one true friend, Blue.
Inevitably this lifestyle comes with danger-which acts as an addictive drug to Sailor as it is the only way he knows- and eventually seeking solace in heroin which leads him into even further depths until the drugs and violence conspire in creating a life spiralling ever downward into a pit where he can find no redemption either in himself or the rest of the world.
‘Thief’ is no easy watch and throughout your discomfort is palpable and this is its intent. Robertson gives a bravura performance in a set which is as stripped down as he frequently is. Nudity aside this is shocking tale of a life in the shadows with little chance of light bruising the darkness. It is however a great theatrical performance!
‘Thief is on at Hill St. Theatre until August 25th at 9.30pm