Slut | Verve StudiosLeft - Kelly Hynes

Worthiness of topic doesn’t a piece of theatre make; Slut ought to be much more interesting than it is.

Playwright David Mamet has famously said that character is the only plot there is, or that there are only actions and characters reactions. Everyone else says ‘show, don’t tell’. Thus, if a play doesn’t give you distinctive individuals to identify with and the story is presented as a set of narrations in the past tense, it is hard to care. There’s a good story in Slut but it isn’t played out via dynamics between real people, it is told to us in slices of spoken word. The effect is distancing. Rather than hearing the story baldly related, more actual anecdote, real conversation, and nuance in present time would build the drama so much more effectively – the form of the play doesn’t serve it well. There is not enough detail and too much generalization in the script. Albeit gleaned from research and interviews by writer Patricia Cornelius with schoolgirls, this piece comes across as somehow dated. The whole is saved by some excellent acting by the three young performers; they’re well directed by Paola Unger and do a fine job with what they have. Victoria Morgan played Lolita in this performance (the three rotate the role); she is expressive and beautiful, mesmerising to watch. The other two (Kelly Hynes and Hayley Birch) form a chorus and therefore are not differentiated as characters, but are terrifically present and engaging notwithstanding.

The play takes an imaginative leap into the back story of an actual event in Melbourne some years back, where a woman in her mid-twenties was a victim of a shooting by her partner outside a nightclub. A man was shot dead trying to intervene; another seriously injured. How this woman came to be where she was, however, isn’t satisfactorily answered in the play despite seeing it happen; it should be because Slut purports to explore the effects of labeling and stigmatization but the play concerns itself with the issues over the individual. We’d like to understand better how and why Lolita's two friends turn from such fierce attachment to such enmity. We know that early sexualisation can thwart and corrupt a young woman’s sense of self, and that so frequently girls’ academic levels plummet after puberty; these are most important and worthy points of discussion but what we want in theatre is the how and why of this young woman, at this time. Just telling us that she comes to be stigmatized and ultimately (predictably) brutalized isn’t enough. Lolita’s collapse into formlessness after trauma isn’t a given, and the most interesting part of the play is where we do get a glimpse of an individual behind the wildcat seductress, in the speech where Lolita talks about not wanting anything, how she doesn’t know how to want. What actually is going on for her as she abandons her intellectual side? There is so much worth delving into rather than just exhibiting it, as telling one girl’s story can give us a deeper understanding of what, despite decades of feminism, still so often happens to others in those crucial years.


Verve Studios presents
Slut
by Patricia Cornelius

Directed by Paola Unger

Venue: The Dog Theatre 42a Albert Street Footscray VIC
Dates: 30 June – 17 July, 2010
Times: 8pm Wed - Sat
Matinees: 2pm Sat 10 & 17 July
Tickets: $25/$20 Concession
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