Theatre review: Cutting Onions, The MC Showroom

A visual extravaganza about modern relationships.
Julia Slater-Allan and Sam Corr in ‘Cutting Onions’. Photo: Supplied. A woman sitting on the countertop based in purple light in a domestic sitting, gesturing to a man wearing a black hoodie.

Cutting Onions is a new play written by emerging theatre maker and visual artist, Nadia Sirninger Rankin. The work explores how women navigate modern heterosexual relationships through the lens of the division (or lack thereof) of domestic labour. 

The show opens with a modern white kitchen as an unnamed woman enters and begins cutting the eponymous onions with tears streaming down her face. Audiences are left to guess whether she is crying from the onions or for another unspoken reason.

Later her husband enters and the first spoken words are of his day – it’s an intimate moment and the woman shares her internal thoughts with the audience. 

Audiences learn about the woman’s feelings quickly through her interactions with her mother and the charming, yet avoidant, husband. Pressures of both domestic responsibilities and finding a job weighs in, as the set begins to match the woman’s inner turmoil.

Cutting Onions’s central provocation is whether heterosexual women should accept a relationship where he is ostensibly loving and supportive, simply because it’s better to be with a man than on your own. It may mean that you have to put up with his micro-domineering ways, which he unconsciously displays when discussing and performing (or not) household chores. Physical domestic violence seems to be the only bottom line, and everything else is sufferable.

Julia Slater-Allan ably portrays the woman struggling with whether to stay in the relationship and expertly interacts with the surreal imagery around the set. Sam Corr also does well as the man who is trying his best to be a loving partner. It would’ve been nice though if both had either been mic’d or projected more, as it was sometimes difficult to hear the few lines they had. 

Read: Theatre review: Shrapnel, fortyfivedownstairs

Overall, the work relied almost entirely on the visual spectacle rather than the story itself and could benefit from some more development of the spoken dialogue and back story scenes, so as to better establish the nuanced perspective that the play is aiming at. 

This experimental theatre work is a visual extravaganza to behold and does a good job of starting to explore the nuances facing modern relationships. 

Cutting Onions
Presented by Running with Scissors Theatre at The MC Showroom
Writer, Producer, Director, and Property Creator: Nadia Sirninger Rankin
Assistant Director and Production Consultant: Nicholas Reynolds
Production and Stage Manager: Liz Everett
Assistant Stage Managers: Amanda Dhammanarachchi, Anastasia Swadling, and Jaime Watts
Performers: Julia Slater-Allan and Sam Corr
Set: Lima Mckay, Doug McKay and Cheryl Martin
Lighting/Sound Designer and Operator: Rohan Dimsey
Graphic Design and Property Creation: Sophie Sirninger Rankin and Patricia Sirninger

Tickets: $10-$32

Cutting Onions is performed at The MC Showroom until 23 June.

Catherine C. Turner (she/they) is based in Djilang/Geelong and is an emerging writer, amateur musician, hobby photographer and lifelong arts consumer. She has an honours degree in creative writing from the University of Canberra and an MFA (Cultural Leadership) from NIDA, during which she wrote an original Australian feminist fairy tale.