‘SLUT’ Horrifyingly Mirrors Reality

Featuring a cast of teenagers, “Slut” is a new play which explores complex yet realistic themes and incidents which occur in a 21st century high school.

Provoking messages intimidate audiences as soon as they step foot into the blackbox theater of Dixon Place. Screens glow with offensive tweets, like “Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are… Unless you a slut. Then be ashamed,” which demonstrate how people use degrading language colloquially.  “SLUT” sets out to provoke conversation about slut-shaming and the derogatory way society judges female sexuality — and it
succeeds tremendously.

“SLUT” tells the story of 16-year-old Joey (Lexa Krebbs), who is a member of the “slut squad” — her New York high school’s dance team. On a seemingly ordinary weekend, she pre-games with three of her closest friends before heading to another party uptown. What happens in the cab on the way to that party, though, changes everything. Before the audience can figure out what has happened, Joey’s friend Jane finds her vomiting in the bathroom, her ripped underwear in hand.

Though the synopsis is enough to leave a pit in your stomach, Joey’s classmates’ reactions are even worse. It seems that they will take any excuse to place the blame on Joey — her skirt was too short, she was drunk, she brought condoms — she must have wanted it.

The teenage cast brings the rawness of Joey and her classmates’ experience to life. They take the audience into their reality, where swearing and studying go hand in hand. They talk about grades and hook-ups and parties, but their youthful light-heartedness is lost when Joey has to give a statement to the assistant district attorney.

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Gone is her mini skirt and crop top. 16-year-old Krebbs embodies the pain of a girl who is scared and ashamed. As Joey begins to recount her story from a dimly lit desk, the audience watches as Joey’s classmates and friends judge the events from the other side of the stage. The stories of the classmates watching Joey and the audience watching the play parallel in a hauntingly beautiful manner.

The show ends in tears — both Joey’s and the audience’s. Joey appears so alone, but her story is not uncommon. One in four girls are sexually assaulted by the time they turn eighteen. One in five college girls will experience rape or attempted rape. This story is much more than fiction.

“SLUT” holds up a mirror that may be a little hard to look into. The play is bold and vulgar but that is what makes it so successful. Director and writer Katie Cappiello puts it beautifully: “We can’t address it if
we can’t face it.”

“SLUT” is playing through Feb. 27 at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 8th print edition. Email Willa Tellekson-Flash at [email protected]

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