Don’t pity this whore: Slasher at Kitchen Dog

Slasher is way too bold and bright to pity as a whore. Kitchen Dog Theater’s production of Alison Moore’s national stage hit is more of a bright-eyed, new ‘recruit on the street’ type of play, a saucy tart oozing charm and redemptive qualities in flashing neon-lit burn. Moore’s high dudgeon farce weaves two close-hooked themes like patchouli incense through the production; one is an exploration of manipulation and (s)exploitation, the other examines aspects of good and evil.

SLASHER 8- april fools b

Don't mess with Frances

Not a whit heavy-handed, the only hammer near this production is wielded by wheelchair-disabled mother Frances who smashes her painkillers as personal release and declaration of war on cheap porn. Go, Frances.

All the fun and frolic’s in the action, just like in the slasher film genre the play pillories, replete with a breadth of blood-smeared, jiggling tits and ass revealed alluringly en route to chainsaw. The plot unfolds like the film Waiting for Guffman: sleazy film producer (Chris Hury) blows into town and cons local ingénue Sheena (Martha Harms) into becoming the “last girl” killed in his newest slasher venture, i.e. his ‘star’, with more lustful intent than artistic sensibility. But wait, he’s no match for the pragmatic, independent-minded Sheena who negotiates a high pay package for her film appearance (“It cannot be exploitation when they are paying me this much money”), nor for her Bates Motel savage mother Frances (Lisa Hassler), spouting Gloria Steinem-speak on one hand, through drug-addicted haze, and wielding a home-made bomb in the other. Don’t mess with this Mama, no how. Add a sweet, sprightly, dim-wit aspiring film assistant (Drew Wall), minor “luv interest” for Sheena, and a parade of Kentucky-fried catalytic characters and disposable wenches, some with hatchets imbedded in their skulls and revealingly clad (Leah Spillman); Kitchen Dog serves up a theatrical feast heftier than a Manwich Sanwich with a heaping, ketchup-laced side of Hamburger Helper. Mm-mm, good.

Clare Floyd Devries’ set defines the space mostly vertical, with pulsating neon lights and two raunchy portraits (one a nasty slasher dude, the other a wide-eyed blonde babe) flanking the stage area and stretching way up into fly space, painted by Cathey Miller. Mama Frances enters through a backlit upstage arch on her ‘power-chariot’, Jaws-like accompaniment pumping up every time she motors in ready for battle. Garish lighting by Suzanne Lavender defines the wholly unwholesome mood. Cameron Cobb goes to extravagant and perverted lengths, utterly delightful, in creating original music and sound design and choreographing the lurid fight/seduction scenes. What’s a genuine slasher-flick without a dose of gratuitous sexploitation masquerading as a fight scene? How many such films did Cobb endure viewing to get that slimy ambience down pat? Christine Vela’s costumes and Jen Gilson-Gilliam and Judy Niven’s props are the cheesy cat’s pajamas, like Cool Whip and sprinkles on this 7-11 banana crème pie special.

SLASHER 5 pillow fight

Good clean fun!

Director Tina Parker’s ensemble purrs along in chaotic, cartoon-like squalor, portraying the unfolding dichotomy of good and evil with merry vengeance. Rebekah Kennedy as Frances’ school-aged daughter gives a nice turn as a school-focused innocent, oblivious to all the chaotic folderol unleashed around her. Don’t bring your Tums; it goes down real smooth.

Considered “a gathering point for theater professionals and critics to take the temperature of the American theater” (St. Paul Pioneer Press, April, 2008) the 33rd Humana Festival honored playwright Allison Moore by featuring her play Slasher in its 2009 line-up. The Humana Foundation has sponsored the festival for thirty years, the largest and longest-running current partnership between a theatre and a corporation in the country.

In the spirit of SLASHER’s fusion of theatre and film, Kitchen Dog Theater, spearheaded by SLASHER director and SAG member, Tina Parker, has partnered with the Screen Actors Guild’s DallasSAG logo branch to host a benefit night for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. The SAG Foundation (www.sagfoundation.org) provides healthcare for actors in need, emergency financial relief for families, and a variety of education and literacy programs. Its mission is to “enhance the lives of actors by investing in programs which help them in their professional endeavors and the communities in which they live.” All tickets to the benefit will be $25 and $10 of every ticket sold on November 20th will be donated to the SAG Foundation. Attendees will also enjoy a post-show reception with the cast and members of the Kitchen Dog company.

 

Slasher at Kitchen Dog Theater runs through December 12

Tickets: 214-953-1055 or www.kitchendogtheater.org

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