Tuesday October 17, 2017
SLUT
Review

SLUT

By Diana Simmonds
June 16 2017

SLUT, Red Line Productions in association with Edgeware Forum & Rue De La Rocket at the Old Fitz, 13-24 June 2017. Photography by Clare Hawley of the company - Julia Dray, Bobbie-Jean Henning, Jessica Keogh, Danielle Stamoulos and Maryann Wright

As a playwright, Patricia Cornelius is a woman of few words, whether she’s employing them in a play title or, for instance, in this 35-minute epic, Slut in which she packs more drama, lucidity, cruelty, compassion, wisdom, laughter and story than many writers manage in two or three hours.

This production was seen as a one performance highlight of the WITS’ Festival Fatale in October last year. The audience response and critical reception were such that a return in a longer season was only a matter of time – and agile programming by Red Line at the Old Fitz. So now here it is, with its original cast intact and it’s an astonishing and unmissable experience.

Slut is Everygirl at school, in the playground, in puberty, in dreams and nightmares and in reality. Lolita (Jessica Keogh) and her besties: Julia Dray, Bobbie-Jean Henning, Danielle Stamoulos and Maryann Wright, relate – in unison and as observers and antagonists of each other – the days of their lives. There would be few women in its audiences of any age, on any given night, who would not recognise and remember most if not all that they relate.

They begin with the exuberance and wide-eyed rudeness of kids, move quickly into that moment when a pair of breasts on one of their number changes everything, and then the rollercoaster ride to adulthood begins. Cornelius has an ear and eye for the way girls are with each other that makes electrifying and authentic dialogue. The inevitable lightning volte faces and the switches between “happy-ever-after” and “we-hate-you” spin the five towards and away from the group with eye-watering, damaging consequences.

SLUT

Yet of course, the charismatic and suddenly sexy Lolita is instantly the target of the jealous, the fearful and those who suspect they are lesser beings – of both sexes – and the consequences of that are even more damaging. And in one memorable, speech by Keogh the poignancy of her plight is the pain so many girls remember.

Directed with great verve and nuance by Erin Taylor, Slut is a production that delivers dynamic truth and theatre with every minute of its 35. It’s colourful and honest, funny and ferocious even as one’s heart is wrenched in five different directions as the lives of young women in this society are dissected and laid bare for all to see.

The suggested lower age limit is 15 – but by this time most girls would be familiar with what happens in the play and it might just help 12-14-year-olds to be assured that they’re neither freaks nor oddities in these experiences. For the rest of us, it’s a pulverising reminder of how easy it is to cause shame and pain. Or not. A Must See.

 

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