Review: Alice in Slasherland, Old Fitz Theatre

Replete with pop culture references, Qui Nguyen’s bloody comedy pays loving homage to the horror genre.
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Stella Ye in Alice in Slasherland. Photo by Clare Hawley.

What to say when a show is too much fun to give anything away?

Written by Vietnamese American playwright Qui Nguyen, Alice in Slasherland is a high-energy hit with plenty of laughs, gore galore and hysterically homicidal animals.

A portal to hell opens up at a teen party and the kids are left on their own to fight demons, fall in love, and use social media. There are killer jokes. There are puppets. There’s cartoon violence – which is so expert that one doesn’t fear for the actors even though there’s a big heavy object involved. And there are enough starts and shocks for any aficionado of the horror movie genre.

The show starts with a cracker fright then continues to top itself with each next grab-the-person-next-to-you scare. And the bloodletting? The first one surprises and shocks; then the next one is even better. Funnier, cleverer, sillier! This show is advanced adult juvenilia that revels in youth-inducing immaturity.

The parody is pugnaciously gentle and loving; direction from Rachel Kerry keeps the tone squarely centred on tongue-in-cheek silliness, and the acting is uniformly fun and engaging. Much of the delight comes from watching the reactions of other audience members, especially if you have been warned not to sit in the front rows because you’re wearing white shoes. From up the back, you can witness the absolute hilarity of immersion.

The technical production is excellent: Video projection works in concert with the movable set pieces to create a more layered experience, which is especially successful in the split-screen bathroom scene. The lighting design brings together clashing colours like pink and green, stepping up in some moments then fading into the background when necessary, with a restrained use of red showing understanding of colour fatigue.

The red, green and blue during the sheriff’s monologue add to the filmic nods of the production while the sound design continues the homage to slasher cinema conventions. A colour-coded backpack, a pristine white cheerleader’s skirt, and a big wash each night for the wardrobe department give the show a subtle finesse. Equally replete are the pop culture references which just keep coming. A second viewing might be required to catch them all.

4 ½ stars ★★★★☆

Alice in Slasherland
Last One Standing Theatre Company & Red Line Productions
Playwright: Qui Nguyen
Director: Rachel Kerry
Cast: Justin Amankwah, Jack Angwin, Josh McElroy, Bardiya McKinnon, Mia Morrissey, Laura Murphy, Stella Ye
Set Design: Lauren Peters
Lighting Design: Ben Brockman
Costume Design: Kate Beere
Make-Up: Georgia Maroney
Puppet Design & Construction: Indi Redding
Sound Design: Julian Starr
Combat & Movement Director: Nigel Poulton

Stage Management: Maddison Huber

18 April – 11 May 2019
Old Fitz Theatre, Woolloomooloo

Judith Greenaway
About the Author
Judith grew up as a theatre brat with parents who were jobbing actors and singers. She has now retired from a lifetime of teaching and theatre work with companies small and large and spends evenings exploring the wealth of indie and professional theatre available in Sydney.