SLUT questions the way society sees—and deems—a woman’s sexuality
What is a slut, really? Is it based on the number of people someone’s slept with? Their attitude towards sex? Or is it just an archaic term used to make women feel bad about their sexuality?
These are the kinds of questions that SLUT, a one-woman play seeks to explore. The play follows the story of Matilda McHartle, a single accountant in her mid-30s. She’s a little quirky, sure, but she never thought much of it.
However, after a dispute with her next-door neighbour, she is turned in to the authorities for indecent behaviour. As she is booked at the police station, McHartle wrestles with a range of emotions that deal with how her sexuality is perceived. Through this situation, the play examines the difference between sex, love, and loneliness.
Presented by Northern Light Theatre, the play, directed by Trevor Schmidt, runs at the ATB Financial Arts Barns and was written in 2013 by Brenda McFarlane, a Toronto-based playwright. This will be the first time the show is performed in Alberta.
“Brenda McFarlane is brilliant in how she takes a humourous approach to some really serious themes in the play,” says Michelle Todd, the sole cast member and star of the show.
Todd is no stranger to performing in one-woman shows—she’s even written her own—which was one of the reasons Schmidt had his eye on her for the role. In SLUT, she plays around nine different characters, from Matilda to the policemen booking her. Todd and Schmidt have also worked on Fringe plays together in the past.
“It’s a fantastic challenge,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity to get to play so many different people and to have to have distinct characteristics and style for each person and their own journey and motivation.”
When Todd originally read the play for Schmidt, she didn’t know she was being considered for the role. She just thought it was one friend asking another to read a play.
“I thought it was hilarious because it was all in these connotations about ‘Well, sure, women can be sexually active,’ but the funny—and great—thing about this show is that if you choose to do that, then you’re just a slut. But it really looks at the question of ‘Are you?’” she says. “If you’re sexually active—and you’re of a certain age—chances are, how many relationships have you had? I thought it was great because it was on the heels of shows like Sex and the City. I loved [Sex and the City], and the characters are all very different, but they’re all sexually active. They don’t see themselves—and I don’t see them—as ‘slutty.’”
At the end of the day, though, Todd admits that even a one-woman show is a group effort.
“A one-woman show is never a one-woman show,” she says. “You have your stage manager, your director, and I get to see the set designer and lighting designer. So all these pieces get to come together; It’s never just one person.”
Thu., Apr. 5 – Sat., Apr. 14
ATB Financial Arts Barns
$21 via northernlighttheatre.com