In her new play THE PLOT, Greek playwright Evdokia Katahanas’ follows the challenging journey of nursing home manager, Lily.
By the close of Katahanas’ play I had all the empathy in the world for Lily, who director Sophie Kelly so poetically described as being, ‘the rib cage protecting her patients’ .
What a tough gig she has! On one hand she has all the dramas involved in caring for her many and often difficult patients. On the other hand, she has to contend with the demands of corrupt, cantankerous, insensitive managers.
Part of the Sydney Fringe, SLUTTERATI by Michael Gottsche has been developed with the assistance of the New Theatre where it is currently being performed. Under Louise Fischer’s sure direction, the excellent cast bring to life the biting, satirical script (which – warning – has lots of strong language) .The narrative is told clearly and the plot structure is quite strong.
SLUTTERATI lampoons the narcissistic obsessiveness of the age of ‘celebrity’ and with a dark twist reveals a delicate personal story hidden underneath the superficial world of vanity and ambition. Who (if anyone) can you really trust? It is about the continual rise of gossip as ‘news’ and its insidious omnipresence in today’s society, how ‘news’ is not simple reportage of major events but in synch with commercial sponsorship.
The set is quite sparse, – a sofa, several TVs, a desk and chairs. The scene changes, and there are lots of quick scene changes, are handled very smoothly, and in a quite cinematic way.
Very handsome Matt Charleston gives a strong performance as Dan Paul Newman, a TV presenter who is caught in a world of rather inane TV programs, B Grade celebrity colleagues and boring parties. In the lead up to the Olympics, Newman wants to remind people he once was a top Olympic swimmer. But in a wave of a series of embarrassing scandals he discovers how quickly and easily his reputation can be smashed and his career crashes badly.
It is all about ‘face’ and manipulation of the media as organised through Clark, his manager. Can the situation be saved? There is a sharp, almost Brechtian ‘nightmare’ scene, very well presented, where everything in Newman’s world comes crashing down.
Stephen Wilkinson as Clark, Newman’s likable yet seedy, quite shady manager with a criminal background, gives the play some of its tensest moments. He brings a feeling of urgency to the story and makes us believe that the stakes are very high.
Others in the cast include Rebecca Clay who plays Talia-Jayne, an early-evening commercial television presenter colleague of Newman’s, who regards herself as a serious journalist. With a toothy smile she certainly confidently looks the part, yet underneath is constantly aware of her superficiality .Her elegant, blow-waved, narcissistic self importance is underlined with a hint of caring phoniness.
As Angela, his harassed first agent, Jorjia Gillis was terrific. The cleaner, Lily, who gets to know Dan Paul quite intimately, yet at the same time not at all, was well played by Kate Skinner. The theoretical division between Personal and Professional lives and confidentiality was stressed .And Amy Fisher was terrific as Amy Dunn, whose kiss and tell TV interview, sparks a crisis.
A timely, very cutting analysis and critique of current media issues. Running time 75 minutes straight through.
Michel Gottsche’s SLUTTERATI ran at the New Theatre, King Street, Newtown between September 19 and 23, 2013.
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