‘Slippery’ // Curtain World

‘Slippery’ was unexpected.

An unassuming industrial warehouse, VENTSpace is a pop-up bar, cool vibes and an audience of obscure and mismatched chairs. It provides a voyeuristic feeling and, paired with a family picnic atmosphere, is quite ‘Slippery’. The creative team have generated an abstract yet familiar, intriguing and inviting setting. Doors opened to a shipping container-like structure which drew the viewer in, as though looking in at life happening behind closed doors.

‘Slippery’ presents a comedic murder mystery, but not in the way your mind expects. This absurd piece of theatre, paired with elements of physical theatre and clowning, explores a four-way abruptly becoming a three-way relationship when one lover returns to the mansion as a ghost, exclaiming they have been murdered. Themes of polyamory and genderless sex is present throughout.

With the mansion boarded shut, constant rain and characters stuck indoors – with others who, at times, they want to escape – the show has striking relevance to the isolation of the COVID-19 world and recent significant weather events. Simultaneously, however, the show was presented in such an absurd manner it kept audiences on a journey far from reality and in a non-linear narrative.

The random songs, voiceovers and dialogue added to the intriguing and comical nature of this play. It was intense, funny and engaging – a fragmented ‘who done it’ performance. The acoustics were great for the space, and the cast did not use microphones.

A red light exuded from behind the panels of glass within the wooden retractable doors, adding to the intrigue and voyeuristic quality of the piece. Once open, carefully placed lights illuminated the intense and somewhat off-putting facials and focus of the performers. A small projection of illustrations, credited to Livvy Watkins, was cast onto the back corner wall of the space adding to the thoroughly interesting and absurd presentation.

Set in what was called a “mansion”, designed by Esther Dougherty, the incongruence of the space added to the overall bizarre feeling of the experience. A massive bunch of bananas were propped upon the table upstage and became a character – speaking to the cast in the later section of the show.

The costume for the cast included a nightdress/hospital gown with a thick clown’s collar. This had audience members perceiving the cast as people not only trapped in a ‘mansion’ but perhaps an asylum. Paired with this were faces painted as white clowns, and outlined with a heart shape. Could it be that this four-way polyamorous relationship was happy in love prior to the complication? Each character had a contrasting wine-red heart attached to the front of their gown, with the exception of the ghost lover. This could be symbolic of a disconnect between the dead member of the romance of the other three.

Direction by Esther Dougherty should be commended as there was never a dull moment. The characters’ use of space and their physicality made sure there was always something or someone to focus on. The obscure movement, flexed feet, straddling chairs, and transitioning from standing to the sitting on the ground and back up again were fluent and fittingly odd. All the dramatic elements matched beautifully with the superb script. In particular, the physical theatre elements were perfectly polished and thoughtful, adding to the overall intention of the play.

The performers were fantastic – engaging and committed at every moment. Siobhan Gibbs, as Moon Junes, inhabited her role. Her gestures throughout looked possessed, the focus was drawn very effectively and she resorted back to a believable child-like figure at times.

Gina Tay Limpus, as Puke, was intense with facials, line delivery and obscure physical distortion when sitting. The physicality of Limpus’ character was amazing. Ben Snaith, as Silly Goose, lived up to the character’s name with a lightness and comedic energy that really played out to the audience and produced immeasurable laughs. Grace Keane-Jones, as The Ghost/Fredenharry, was equally funny with light humor, song and dance maintaining audience connection throughout.

Without the commitment of this cast, the performance would not have been as successful, they ought to be commended. The script is great, the team behind the show are incredible and the location and set really added to the overall atmosphere and success of the production. It was sensationally absurd, and highly recommended.

‘Slippery’ performed until Saturday, 21st May 2022 at the VENTSpace. For more information visit the Curtain World website.

Photos by Jade Ellis Photography

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