Australian arts jobs, news, industry commentary, career advice, reviews & data

News

What's On

SLUT

Anna Gambrill

Stripped-back storytelling reveals sickening truths.
SLUT

The Cast of SLUT by Patricia Cornelius, playing at The Old Fitz Theatre. By Edgeware Forum and Rue De La Rocket alongside Red Line Productions.

'We’d all by then experienced the touch. From some old mate of your father who hugged too close… From an uncle who put his arms around you and placed his fingertips on the edge of your breast... We’d all by then experienced a kiss from an adult that was way too wet.'

Written in 2007 by Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius, SLUT is a rambunctious, candidly gritty and highly poetic 30 minute play. Cornelius’ script is as political as it is personal, inspired by real conversations with young female high school and TAFE students around the topic of gender. SLUT’s rawness and authenticity allows for a frank look at female sexuality and objectification in contemporary society.  

The intimate space of the Old Fitz Theatre, with a minimal and functional set, effectively steers the audience's focus to the storytelling. Five actors solemnly sit at a bare table centre stage mourning the headlining death of a good man, 'a hero'. Initially, the voice of the chorus represents a media bias then quickly shifts to a rowdy and agile tribe, easily capturing the teenage pack mentality. Director Erin Taylor plays with extremes in movement and voice, characters’ energetic and broad physicalisation with loud banter and yelling making moments of stillness and quiet all the more unnerving.

A commanding yet troubled Lolita is played by the dynamic Jessica-Belle Keogh. In response to a real life Melbourne shooting of two men and one woman, Lolita’s character embodies the ‘party girl’ or slut that essentially had it coming – as the media would have you believe. Whilst seated in a shopping trolley, legs swinging like a small child at the supermarket, Lolita’s monologue tells of exclusion from fishing trips with her father and brothers past the age of 12. The evidence piles up as Lolita’s friends witness a teacher’s advance and obsession with her burgeoning adolescent body. Forced to grow up, to be uninvited and simultaneously coerced by entitled male teachers and/or relatives. Uneasy cringes and awkward laughs emerged from the audience with taboo yet resonant topics.

True to Patricia Cornelius’ desire to represent middle and working class voices, mismatched, untucked and unpoliced school uniforms by Isabel Hudson position characters outside of assumed wealth or privilege. Throughout the play Lolita’s decline finds her more unbuttoned, unlaced and untidy, with messy, thrown down hair; almost unidentifiable from the upbeat schoolgirl she had been.

From ‘Queen’ to ‘Slut’, admiration becomes disgust as Lolita’s friends narrate her demise. Mid-performance, a cacophony of insults erupt from the schoolyard chorus with indiscriminate slandering from ugly to dumb; a strong ensemble that is lively, changing whilst in sync. The tender monologue performed by Bobbie-Jean Henning remembers a country trip with Lolita of swimming, gardening and ‘just being kids’, away from schoolyard conflict. Moving from innocence to adulthood, the ensemble shows how offensive words, labels and objectification strongly impact self-esteem and behaviour.

The power of this script is that it gives personal and diverse narratives to women who have experienced objectification, sexism or even domestic violence. Cornelius’ candid representation of gender disparity facing women, from familial grooming to condescending media portrayal, gives a voice to these victims. Whilst the script speaks for itself, the robust ensemble brought authentic and sincere characters to life; a stripped-back, strong and engaging performance.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5

SLUT
Written by Patricia Cornelius

CAST
Julia Dray
Bobbie-Jean Henning
Jessica Keogh
Danielle Stamoulos
Maryann Wright

CREATIVE TEAM
Directed by Erin Taylor
Design by Isabel Hudson
Sound Design by Nate Edmonson
Production Photography by Clare Hawley

Playing at The Old Fitz Theatre until June 24, 2017.

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Anna has a passion for the creative arts with experience across performance, production, event management and writing. Anna's interest in musical theatre and jazz singing led her to study a Bachelor of Communication in Theatre/Media through Charles Sturt University, Bathurst. Here she explored theatre across the ages and discovered a love of theatre for young people as well as an appreciation for physical comedy, clowning and masked theatre. Anna is a writer for the Sydney Arts Guide, she also performs across Sydney in cabarets, a Spice Girls tribute band and as a jazz singer.

Share