Slutterati (New Theatre)

slutterati1Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 19 – 23, 2013
Writer: Michael Gottsche
Director: Louise Fischer
Actors: Matt Charleston, Rebecca Clay, Amy Fisher, Jorjia Gillis, Kate Skinner, Stephen Wilkinson

Theatre review
The title of the piece evokes the modern phenomenon of celebrity and glitterati that is less about a glamorous “smart set”, and more about the sleazy, cheap, and vacuous “content generators” of news and media. It is also about the rise and rise of gossip in the media landscape, and its perverse pervasiveness in our daily lives.

Michael Gottsche’s script begins with the familiar story of a sporting celebrity in the limelight for less than dignified reasons. We are introduced to the stereotypes: an ex-Olympian, an aspiring d-list actor, 2 media spin doctors,  a tabloid journalist; and the story unfolds like an amalgamation of the many scandals that have surfaced in recent times, of which none were of great consequence to the public. Slutterati discusses how “news” is created, that it is generated by commercial interest rather than a straightforward reporting of important events.

Rebecca Clay plays Talia-Jayne, the commercial television personality who presents herself as a journalist. Clay successfully portrays the dichotomy of misplaced self-importance with a good dose of low-life wretchedness. It is a thoroughly enjoyable performance that is convincing, but also knowingly tinged with camp commentary. She looks every bit the part, but we revel in the actor’s awareness of her character’s absurdity.

Stephen Wilkinson as Clark, the shady talent manager, provides the play’s most dramatic moments. His vigour creates a tautness to the drama, and scenes without his energetic presence tend to come across less focused. Wilkinson has a knack for introducing urgency to the plot, as well as the crucial sense that the stakes are high, so that the audience’s attention is tightly gripped.

The play comprises many quick scenes, and this is problematic for the live stage. Time and space change often and these sometimes occur inelegantly. However, the story is told with clarity and the plot structure is strong. Our interest in the characters grow, and we invest emotionally in their experiences. This is a critique of Australian media, and although it does not propose alternative strategies, the statement it makes is valid and timely.