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THEATRE: 24 SEPTEMBER 2015

By SANDRA BOWDEN

Slut, by Patricia Cornelius | Directed by Natarsha Wrensted

Sydney Fringe Festival 2015 | New Theatre, Newtown, Sydney | Until 26 September

The premise for Patricia Cornelius’s Slut is intriguing — how can young women navigate their emerging sexuality in the context of an increasingly immediate and judgemental society?

Narrated by her peers (Ashley Avci, Sophie McCrae, Jane Watt, Brigitta Brown, Zoe Tomaras and Eliza J Scott), the tragic story of obviously-named Lolita (Felicity McKay) attempts to give a face to “the culture of victim and slut shaming”.

Forty minutes, however, truncates a complex and difficult subject into something verging on cliché. Early-developing girl is elevated to celebrity status as she negotiates the path to adulthood ahead of her squealing, giggling friends, only to become the subject of disgust and condemnation. The only males are a sleazy teacher (Christopher Broadbent), violent asshole/boyfriend (Rowan McDonald) and heroic nameless victim.

Lolita gets little opportunity to voice her perspective — perhaps the point. But this gives a sense of hopelessness to the production that does not seem to be its ultimate intent.

Slut ends up being a mixture of uncomfortably spot-on observances and underdeveloped ideas. A passionate and energetic cast miss out on the opportunity to explore this issue with the depth it deserves.