Review by Lucy Holz
Pounding dance music greets the audience as we file into Solidarity Hall, one of the small performance spaces tucked away within the hub of Melbourne Fringe. Once seated, we are soon greeted by the disembodied voice Motherboard. Encouraged to take pictures, film, cheer, whoop and guffaw as necessary, Slutnik has you hooked from the get-go.
The show follows a crew of cannibal lesbians who, fed up with their treatment by society, decide to leave the planet, banding together on their spaceship Slutnik. Causing chaos on earth while they ready themselves for lift-off, the crew of sluts (as dubbed by their resident AI Motherboard) undertake rigorous training to prepare them for life in space.
Slutnik is visually arresting, with stunning costumes by Natalie Gillis which seem to be more detailed every time you look at them. Each performer is strikingly clad in sexy space gear, evoking a sense of character and most importantly, giving them room to dance. Set by Gillis is minimal but effective, with a futuristic centrepiece giving us insight into the innards of the Slutnik ship.
Danni A. Esposito creates the perfect soundscape, bringing a constant stream of energy to the show. Lighting by Giovanna Yate Gonzalez is similarly effective, with a particularly haunting red wash casting the sluts in shadow as they devour the flesh of a captured man.
A series of predominately comedic vignettes, this show written by Flick, seems to aim to cover the entire female experience. While these continual skits are hilarious and often moving, this hugely broad range of material dilutes the plot and confuses the message of the piece. The advertised runtime of 60-minutes is well exceeded, with the show finishing 40-minutes late, suggesting the need for a cutthroat edit.
With tight dance numbers, fight sequences and flashy visual humour, director Tansy Gorman has an impressive flair for physical comedy. Slutnik is pacy and well timed with Gorman eliciting not only laughs but strong moments of empathy from the audience.
Ultimately this show is an ensemble piece, with a hugely strong cast of six performers bringing the show to life. With each character being given their moment to shine, the actors are able to really strut their stuff. Whether that be in dance, dramatic monologue or hilarious impressions, each performer catches audience attention, and this cast holds us in the palm of their hands.
In a show that has the audience in constant stitches, Veronica Pena Negrette gives a strong and grounded performance. Providing necessary contrast to the many Saturday Night Live style skits, Negrette strengthens the storyline by reminding us why the sluts are leaving earth in the first place.
The hero of this piece is undoubtedly Motherboard, the ship computer played dynamically by Matilda Gibbs. Combining delightful physical comedy with captivating vocal resonance, no-one has the audience laughing more than Gibbs.
A massively entertaining celebration of female queerness, clear your evening to climb aboard the good ship Slutnik this Melbourne Fringe.