Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review: A Never Ending Saga

Finding a manner in which to discuss important issues can be hard. That's where art can come in. Art is a medium where a story can be told all the while educating and informing an audience about topics we may be scared to discuss out loud. And that's where Slut comes in. Written by Katie Cappiello and Co-Directed by Cappiello and Meg McInerney, Slut explores rape culture in our society in a safe yet provocative manner.
Presented by The Arts Effect, Slut follows a young teenage girl in New York City who finds herself as a victim of rape by her peers. Smartly crafted through a series of scenes and monologues, Cappiello's story is told through the eyes of teenagers and performed by teenagers, a vantage point that powers home the morals. Joey, a member of the dance team that calls themselves the "Slut Squad" attends a party, where alcohol is present, and manages finding herself in a cab with three male friends of hers who end up taking advantage of her. Slut features a few scenes of exposition before jumping into an extended monologue from Joey, interspersed with supporting scenes commenting on the situation via a theatrical device. This is a play about rape culture in the age of social media. And it's sadly a highly poignant story. First and foremost, this is a piece that is meant to inform and educate. But when you get to the nitty gritty, there are some theatrical issues. With the dual scenes being a notable device that Cappiello uses, she smartly has dialogue that parallels one another but forcing one side of the stage have to remain inactive waiting for their turn can be difficult to watch. There’s no doubt much thought was taken into using this device but for it to be effective, a lighting shift would have been beneficial. That being said, the use of technology sets this show apart. To catapult this play into today, using Skype and live feeds was captivating. It never once stole focus, something projections could easily do.
With such a difficult story to share, it requires the actors to tap into a scary and vulnerable world. Using an ensemble completely comprised of young actors, asking them to dive deep into an emotional state can be demanding yet these girls were up for the challenge. Slut is Joey’s story. And this play was a courageous journey for Lexa Krebs as Joey. Krebs gave an honest and genuine performance that felt raw. She is a star in the making. While the ensemble players were merely supporting characters to Joey, Mary Miller did manage to stand out as the supportive stranger Sylvie. Her maturity as a victim of a similar situation provided a grounded performance. There was confidence within her words.
Slut is topical that will get the audience talking afterwards, even beyond the post-show talkback which did garner some sizzling debate. And the one overriding theme that seemed to arise was trying to find the answer to who is accountable in these situations. Is it the victim? Is it the boys who took advantage of the girl? Is it the parents who let the kids drink without supervision? Or the teachers for not doing enough to educate? The discussion will always be open and opinions will be formed but no matter what, keeping the conversation open is the mission of Slut and that's exactly what happened.