A theatrical consideration of contemporary masculinities sandwiched by supplementary material.
In truly cathartic theater, the play’s the thing, providing a subtle vehicle for audience engagement. Artist/activist Cappiello’s SLUT (2015) did just that, spurring frank discussions of cultural misogyny and consent. Her latest drama aspires to spark conversations about manhood and masculinity and is deliberately challenging but never didactic. Rather, it provides audiences and readers with space for discussing complicated constructs. It aims to promote roles for actors of color; three characters—Marcus, Derek, and Evan—are black while the remaining two—Nick and Andrew—are not described by race. The action unfolds on a minimalist set where a cast of five NYC high school juniors negotiate their tenuous understanding of gender and sexuality. Scenes are preceded by projected text messages and punctuated with confessional monologues touching on everything from casual homophobia and penis size to familial relationships and consent. Informed by conversations with teenage boys, Cappiello relies on raw dialogue and rapid pacing to create realistic young voices—and to jolt audiences awake. Primed by introductions and followed by reams of pedagogical tools and commentary, the play itself accounts for a mere third of the book. While its accompaniments aren’t groundbreaking, the mix of new (the play’s original cast) and established (Eve Ensler) voices provides valuable context and models productions to emulate.
Nuanced, courageous, and urgently necessary—but better performed than merely read. (Drama/nonfiction. 15-adult)