Theater Review: “Slasher” at the SF Playhouse

Apparent opening-night jitters, compounded by chronic set-change mishaps, didn't daunt the troupers in director Jon Tracy's production of Allison Moore's play. It just made everybody punchier, which seemed appropriate for the material. If only the material hadn't then let them down. Stuck waiting tables at a Hooters-esque dive in small-town Texas, a young woman (Tonya Glanz) has to be the family breadwinner, on account of dad being gone and mom (SF Playhouse cofounder Susi Damilano) having somehow disabled herself with seething righteous-feminist rage and a daily indulgence in pills. Thus: the decidedly mixed blessing of being cast by a desperate scumbag director (Robert Parsons) as the “last girl” (to die) in his newest no-budget slasher flick. “It's not real, mother,” she explains. “I'm in control.” Reply: “You're actually retarded, aren't you?” Conflicts escalate thereafter, as Moore piles up problems of female empowerment, exploitation, radicalism, and violence, but doesn't quite know what to do with them. Well, who does, right? Shouting out but then shying away from its own ambition, the play does indulge the dumb, primal fun of genre frolic and decadent degradation, only to give up on properly accounting for it. But at least the cast and crew don't cop out.

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