(Above – Stages review on 2SER 107.3)
Lewis Carroll meets Buffy meets Re-Animator: The Musical; there’s nigh a better title than Alice in Slasherland.
The latest from Old Fitz stalwarts Red Line Productions and the Last One Standing Theatre Company, a group of teenagers, some nerds, some jocks and all, well, teenagers, call upon themselves to fight a demonic presence that predictably invades their small town. Replete with gore which goes far beyond the imagination, while you will get a poncho be warned; it’s non-assigned seating and if you’re in the first 2-3 rows, just be prepared.
Alice in Slasherland is genuinely entertaining fun with a few great scares, keener felt by those closest to the action. Mixing light horror with a breadth of humour and satire, those less-accustomed to that which goes bump in the night needn’t be too wary.
Waning in sequences for oft-used gags and recurringly-stylised vignettes which call on more than one character to bring their stock-standard reactions to bear, the play proceeds to intermission on an uncommonly inefficacious cliffhanger and to maintain momentum could just as well have powered through to the end.
The fight scenes are very well done, in no small part due to the frenetic choreography of the cast of seven across the small stage and some excellent sleight of hand for a few of the more violent flourishes. The best sequence, one of the few involving the whole troupe, is played out to Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ as participants are mercilessly slaughtered by one of the better-rendered demon-bunnies since Donnie Darko.
The best recurring gag belongs to the full-suited flesh-like fiends; initially deployed for scares, the visages soon progress to some supreme deadpan humour as they are caused to shift props and mop up the floors. The advent of a car ride, traditionally staged and reminiscent of old Hollywood flicks, is abundantly charming and plays out like a yet more twisted version of the Scooby gang at work.
Justin Amankwah (The Flick) is a show highlight as the infernal teddy bear; think Ted with a hell-bent grudge. Laura Murphy is also a rambunctious stand-out as but one of the hellmouth’s spawn as she, among other cast members, takes on multiple roles.
Staged on dual levels, the design is actually less engaging than typically seen at the old Fitz; adorned by bland walls excepting a window which is deployed singularly well at the very beginning. The intent behind the use and design of the confines does become apparent very late in the piece, though it’s placement is not nearly so imaginative as near all else that transpires.
Alice in Slasherland is playing at the Old Fitz Theatre in Wooloomooloo, Sydney until May 11
Playwright: Qui Nguyen
Director: Rachel Kerry
Producer: Last One Standing Theatre Company in association with Red Line Productions