REVIEW: Slutnik – Melbourne Fringe

The launch is close.

The government is after them.

The ship’s A.I. is calculating when is best for them to leave the planet and their odds of survival.

This is Slutnik, a ship designed by radical feminist lesbian cannibals to escape Earth and men – hoping to find a world that is less aggressive to the female body.

What does it mean to orgasm, kiss, fuck, find love, find humanity, to hear each other, to listen to repetitive voices and narratives, write a poem, hide from an oppressive regime, dance and learn and leave the planet Earth behind? And should anyone – with the entire weight of science fiction behind them – ever trust the final stages of planning to a sophisticated android?

Playwright Flick is asking a lot of big picture questions, while also exploring hostile working and living environments that women have to deal with every day. And in between all that, there are thoroughly explosive, exciting and energetic dance routines. All in service of getting our hearts pumping, our hands clapping and to stoke our anger at all the injustices our world has baked in.

The entire ensemble spins and flips and bends their way across the stage, while showing off their dramatic and comedic acting chops. It’s an impressive display of performance across the board, but I have to single out Matilda Gibbs as Motherboard, whose robotic movements are so perfectly calibrated for tension and hilarity. Gibbs’ timing is outstanding and the detailed work she is doing, even when not the focus of the scene, is glorious.

The script is smart and even though it’s full of ideas and dilemmas it never feels over-stuffed. It feels great to be in the hands of a writer who knows what they want to say and even though you could talk about these things for hours, Flick knows when to get in and get out.

Director Tansy Gorman keeps the whole show moving at a rapid-fire pace, keeping adrenalin levels of the performers and the audience high. It’s an incredible achievement.

Slutnik is wild and wonderful – a show full of queer joy that is driven by pain. The show has touched down twice in Melbourne this year. I hope it returns again soon – and in the meantime, travels the world. It’s that good.

- Keith Gow, Theatre First 

Slutnik closed at Melbourne Fringe last night.