INTERVIEW FEATURE: Alice in Slasherland
Alice in Slasherland
Interview by Nicole Pingon
Hell. Demons. A senior prom night in danger. Vietnamese American playwright, Qui Nguyen’s Alice in Slasherland is outrageous, unapologetic and currently playing at the Old Fitz for Sydney audiences.
I was lucky enough to catch not one, not two, but SIX of the cast from Alice in Slasherland, before they jumped into their tech run. Welcomed into the space with warm arms, this charming group of young creatives were all in good spirits.
Cast of Alice in Slasherland: (back row, left to right) Stella Ye, Mia Morrissey, Laura Murphy, (front row, left to right) Bardiya McKinnon, Jack Angwin, and Josh McElroy.
“We haven’t started the actual tech yet,” Laura jokingly mentions, “chat to us in three hours and it might be different then.”
Having spent the first part of the day testing and playing with blood packs, the cast assured me blood is something we’re definitely going to see in Alice in Slasherland. In fact, if we’re lucky, we might actually experience it on our own being.
“Blood is going on the first two rows as much as possible,” Bardiya informs me.
“It’s a bit like the splatter zone at Sea World,” Jack adds.
Yep, you heard it here. Sit in the first two rows if you want some bloody action!
Set in an American high school, Alice in Slasherland intertwines American high school tropes and horror tropes in an action-packed romantic comedy - something we’d expect to see on screen, rather than experience in the theatre.
“The script is so silly, playful, and tongue-in-cheek about American teen culture,” Laura explains. “There’s heaps of swearing, cheerleaders, and sometimes really feels like an un-American person making fun of American teen culture. It actually will probably resonate better here [than in America], because we love to make fun of those idiots.”
“It’s definitely something I’ve never seen done in Australia before,” Jack adds. “It’s that teen high school comedy thing we all watched throughout the nineties, while we’re sitting here in Australia thinking, oh we will never get to do that.”
Not only is Nguyen’s text genre crossing in it’s writing, this production brings the text to life with a combination of puppetry, action, sword fighting, music and dance.
“It’s definitely going to feel like an outrageous party,” Laura tells me. “We all come from a lot of different areas - theatre, TV, comedy, musical theatre - and all of those elements are in this one show. The genres it crosses between is crazy.”
But at its core, Alice In Slasherland is a love story. Amidst the portal to hell being exposed and demons coming out of it, Lewis Diaz is just trying to tell his best friend that he’s in love with her.
“Which is exactly what it feels like when you’re trying to tell someone you love them. Hell opens up,” Mia laughs.
Don’t we all just love love, especially in our formative teenage years?
“They are just kids,” Bardiya explains. “They are all super young and still navigating so many different things, like growing up, while trying to save the world,”
“And still be cool,” Josh adds.
“For all kids, puberty is hell. But for these kids, it’s literal,” Mia laughs.
“Basically it’s an extreme metaphor about bravery, courage and trust,” Laura shares. “Trust in each other and trust you have each other’s back, which is what the team that are trying to save the world have to develop to start working together.”
As soon as I met this charming bunch, I knew this trust Laura spoke of exists between them as an ensemble.
“These are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met,” Bardiya tells me. “This show is ridiculous, in the best way possible, and a show like this wouldn’t be possible without getting people who are like minded, and willing to do dumb stuff and really put themselves out there.”
The team spent six weeks focussing on fight choreography before moving onto the script and staging the show. Having this amount of time with each other in the room allowed an undeniable sense of trust amongst the group.
“We really have to put our safety in each others hands, and trust we are going to take care of each other with all the stunts and fight choreography,” Laura shares. “We are so in sync with each other now, it’s like we can read each other’s minds.”
“Hopefully everyone has as good a time as we are doing it,” Bardiya adds, “I think this has been the most fun I’ve had in a production.”
If there’s one thing to know about Alice in Slasherland before seeing it, it would be that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so as an audience member, just go and have fun, unapologetically.
“We’re trying to remind people they can just have a real good time at the theatre,” Bardiya shares. “We’re not trying to hold a mirror up to society with this show.”
“This is a show not only the Old Fitz haven’t done, but a show I haven’t seen in this city,” Bardiya adds. “It’s completely different, something no one’s seen, and no one’s done. And that’s really exciting and terrifying.”
Exciting and terrifying is exactly what playing with new forms makes artists feel. Excited and terrified is what I’m sure this show is going to make us all feel!
Now, some final words of wisdom from the wonderful cast:
“If you like being bored, don’t come to this show.”
“Don’t wear clothes you don’t want to get dirty.”
“Don’t come in expecting to see Arthur Miller.”
“Just come see the show. It’s going to be really fun. You will laugh a lot. You might cry. Maybe because you’re really scared. Maybe because you’re really sad. Either way, be prepared to have the best time.”