Review by Stephanie Lee
The moment you walk into Theatre Works for this Midsumma show, you are met with blaring music and a huge lesbian flag plastered to the centre of the intricate set resembling the inside of a spaceship. Jumping straight into it, Slutnik throws its audience into the wonderfully outrageous world of the show with a choreographed lip-synch number to the Soulwax remix Work It.
With the patriarchy too embedded in society and unable to cater properly for the health and wellbeing of them, the ‘sluts’ on board Slutnik have decided to abandon Earth altogether. Taking place on a ship designed by lesbian ex-NASA employees, Slutnik follows a group of lesbian cannibals during their final days on Earth getting the spaceship ready for lift-off.
Although the plot seems completely out of this world, Flick manages to write in a way that almost seamlessly blends the fun, absurd setting with the pressing issues of women’s health and female queerness that fuel the emotional undercurrent of the piece. Flick’s work is bold, unapologetic, and exactly the type of theatre we need more of on Australian stages.
Similarly, Tansy Gorman’s direction of the piece is exciting and playful with each element of the stage working together to create the comedic, sci-fi, queer world. Not to mention the shifts between the emotional beats was incredibly well shaped, moving the audience swiftly from comedy to sombre at a moment’s notice without snapping us out of the action.
As Slutnik is a futuristic, sci-fi piece, the design elements of the performance are truly on show throughout. In particular, the attention to detail in the set, designed by Caitlin Johnston is incredible. From the moment you sit down, you can’t help but become fascinated with discovering all the little things added into the design like the exposed panel, posters of the female body, penis shaped guns hanging on the wall and many more easter eggs. The integration of lights and projection into the set design is also very clever, as it added an extra layer of glitz and humour to the show.
The sound design by Danni A. Esposito is not only full of fun tracks and pop numbers, but also dramatically serves the piece in tense moments by creating suspense with ominous booming sounds. The performance is almost never silent, however, the sound blends so well with the action that it shapes the tone of the piece almost unnoticeably.
Although the design is super impressive, the true highlight of the show is the ensemble of actors: Vitoria Hronopoulos, Olivia Mcleod, Anastassia Krstevska, Jett Chudleigh, Veronica Pena Negrette, Myfanwy Hocking, and Molly Mechen. Moving from dance numbers to almost slam poetry style speech to poignant individual moments, the ensemble portrays a group of autonomous, powerful queer women and successfully invests the audience in their plight.
One of my favourite scenes was the ‘sexy glee club’ moment where each actor took in turns of teaching the others a sound effect (e.g. ‘you are running in Havanas and stub your toe’ and ‘you get up after a big night out and take a sip of freshly poured coffee’). Although the scene starts off funny, the reward like many of the other scenes in Slutnik comes at the end when the individual sound effects are put together to create a choral orgasm.
Even though Slutnik is without a doubt a hilarious and fun show, it also has a lot of important things to say about sexuality and autonomy of women and non-binary people. Some of the more poignant moments of the performance truly capture the problems of medicine in a patriarchal, heteronormative society with the pill remaining a big focal point of the discussion.
For anyone looking for a good Midsumma show to go and see, Slutnik will not let you down- it is a must watch this year!