The woman on the cover of the (beautifully designed) play copy of The Sluts of Sutton Drive peers into an oven. Not baking lovely cupcakes, wholesome American style; she is in fact attempting to gas herself.
The image sets the tone for this tale of depression in small town America, down an uninspiring street called Sutton Drive, where its inhabitants eat nuggets, get porn-star Brazilian waxes and where 12 year olds dream of banging their classmates.
What could have been a window into this broken, warped world however ends up being a bit of a mish mash. Stephanie Schwartz (Georgia Buchanan), single mum and centre of the emotional action is very hard to like, which would not be a problem if the whole experience of the play did not depend on liking her. She drowns her sorrows in drinking “Ablammo” (Sutton’s answer to Windolene) but her vicious rejection of those who try to help her out of her misery (she locks out her son, sneers at her boyfriend’s “stupid face” after a suicide attempt) means she’s not exactly winning us over to sympathy. It’s also not clear if there’s a feminist argument at work here. The small theatre air flies with insults on women – sluts, “slunts”, bitch, etc – and Stephanie punches out in retaliation, but the issue is messy rather than meaningful.
There is, however, a cracking cast, particularly the biker boyfriend Will (James Hillier) who is brilliant as a small minded but big-hearted man, and the best friend Sharice (Kelly Burke) who is the free-spirited Thelma to the repressed, sexually nervous Louise character of Stephanie. We also enjoyed the hallucinogenic aspects of the play, which saw Will emerge from hell in a sofa and bottles of Ablammo reach ridiculous quantities. Maybe you have to live on Sutton Drive, or somewhere near it in the world of the author’s head to ‘get’ this play, but we don’t and didn’t.