SHITTY - Belvoir 25A Theatre (NSW)
Written by Chris Edwards. Directed by Zoë Hollyoak. Produced by Essential Workers.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Belvoir’s 25A Theatre, Surry Hills
7th-24th February, 2024
Gothic horror meets genuine laughter in Essential Workers debut of the 25A season for 2024. See it for yourself, but be warned, the first row 'might' be a splash zone!
Belvoir’s 25A Theatre supports low-cost, independent theatre making from emerging theatrical talent right in the heart of Sydney. The beauty of this is that each and every show that is produced in the intimate space is unique in every way possible. Essential Workers have the honour of starting off the 25A program in 2024, and by god do they take advantage of this. SHITTY will leave you howling with laughter, whooping with glee and grabbing the closest person next to you as you tremble in genuine fear. It is, to be blunt, a bloody good time.
Written by Chris Edwards, SHITTY is an anthology series of love, lust and horror. Think The Twilight Zone meets Black Mirror meets American Horror Story but set in Sydney and its surrounds and you have SHITTY. Three individual, but wholly different, stories await you in the depths of Belvoir’s theatre that will provoke bouts of fear and laughter throughout.
SHITTY, Belvoir's 25A Theatre. Images by Phil Erbacher
Under the direction of Zoë Hollyoak, Edwards’ writing is brought to life through five superbly polished performances by Meg Hyeronimus, Roy Joseph, Levi Kenway, Mark Paguio, and Ariadne Sgouros. With each story taking on their own theme of a rather shitty situation, Edwards delves into the human psyche to extract human fears and anxieties, and hurls them with full force at his characters.
Hollyoak’s direction is playful, as she balances the humour with the surreal tension of the situations the characters find themselves in. From an unknown technological entity infiltrating an adulterous relationship, to extracting trauma and abuse in ghostly - somehow romantic? - apparitions, and a genuine horror story worthy of a Blumhouse production, the audience are enwrapped from the first glimpses.
Working as a sixth character throughout, Madeleine Picard’s sound design and Morgan Moroney’s lighting design infiltrates the senses in key moments. Whether this be the ‘pings’ of a message lit by fluorescent beams, the ghostly laughter of a dead father, or the devouring snorts of a deer, the two work in tandem to create tension worthy of The Woman in Black’s reputation. I was more tense and fearful watching the third act of SHITTY then I was watching an actual horror movie the night before in the safety of my bedroom.
SHITTY is bold and golden storytelling that will rival your next Netflix horror watch.
The performers tasked with bringing genuine tension to SHITTY performed each moment diligently with each handling their roles with enough commitment and care, which, in lesser hands could have resulted in the entire production falling flat. Hyeronimus and Kenway give us a staggeringly good rendition of Dirty Dancing’s final number, whilst divulging the fragility of their adulterous relationship. Paguio powers through trauma dumps and lust as he seeks to break his virginity on the streets of Sydney, whilst navigating his late-father’s imprint, whilst Joseph, in contrast, delivers outrageously funny seduction of the supernatural kind.
But it is Sgouros whose performance is a tour-de-force in SHITTY’s final act. Her first moments crawling up the metallic stairs attached to the back wall, shaking and shivering with blood stained pyjamas, only to instantly break the tension with a dry smile brought the audience to cheers. From here Sgouros leads you through a second-person spoken-hypothetical horror story that is both visceral in the imagination, and physically discomforting that sees…well, let’s just say we were warned the first row might be a splash zone.
SHITTY is bold and golden storytelling that will rival your next Netflix horror watch, delivering subtle messages of our own deep anxieties and desires with a smattering of gothic horror. Experience it for yourself and you may just leave the theatre on an absolute adrenaline high.
DURATION: 80 MINUTES (NO INTERVAL)
CONTENT WARNING: SHITTY includes the use of coarse language, strobe lighting, dead black-outs, herbal cigarettes, haze and the use of loud and sudden noises. This production also includes mentions of physical abuse, sexual themes, gore and the use of fake blood.
MEG HYERONIMUS EMILY
ROY JOSEPH DARCY
LEVI KENWAY BEN
MARK PAGUIO FRANKIE
ARIADNE SGOUROS EVIE
CHRIS EDWARDS WRITER
ZOË HOLLYOAK DIRECTOR
HAILLEY HUNT SET & PROPS DESIGNER
CLAUDIA KRYSZKIEWICZ COSTUME DESIGNER
MORGAN MORONEY LIGHTING DESIGNER
MADELEINE PICARD COMPOSER & SOUND DESIGNER
CERO ZELL ASSISTANT PRODUCER
JUSTICE GEORGOPOULOS STAGE MANAGER