Vulgar and ingenious in equal measure, Slick plays like the artful and unfettered bastard child of Punch and Judy – and is definitely for adult viewing only. Pared back from its original 90 minute running time, this 2008 winner of both a Fringe First and CATS award by Glasgow-based Vox Motus, is now, if possible, slicker than ever.
Set in the ground floor flat of a Glasgow tenement where Little Malcolm Biggar, aged nine-and-three-quarters, lives with his self-absorbed, degenerate parents, the story follows their exploitation of Little Malky - in exchange for the possibility of riches – and his innocent, somewhat optimistic dream of one day owning a helmet so his head won’t break when he falls off his skateboard.
When crude oil bubbles up out of their lavvy, the Biggars – while raking in the cash – worry that their landlord, Jerko, on the floor above and his mum, Mrs. Dreich, on the floor above that, may also have access to this liquid gold. Malky soon finds himself in local flasher-cum-paedophile Jerko’s bedroom, inadvertently helping him find relief having already, by coercion, relieved Mrs.Dreich of her prolapsed anus.
Be warned that the plot, like the language, does not sweeten as it progresses, but the ending at least allows this bitter and twisted little piece to finally be swallowed without leaving a completely foul stench in the mouth.
What lifts this remarkable spectacle above the tier of the absurdly hideous, to the loftier level of the morbidly fascinating, is its technical brilliance. The waist-length outfits with empty, dangling legs mean that each character is ‘played’ (brilliantly, I might add) by at least two people: one providing the face, voice and legs and another standing behind, clad in black so barely seen, inserting their hands into the outfit’s arms. This requires supreme timing but enables some vivid and inventive contortions and presentations.
These distorted characters perform on a pair of deceptively simplistic waist-high platforms that unwrap and refold to reveal recognisable locations that are impressive both in number and degree. The penultimate scene on the rooftop at night is a superb feat of engineering and vision, worth watching carefully for a ‘howdunit’ to remember.
With unremitting obscenity and ugliness generating disaffection on the one hand, and outstanding creativity and artistry, galvanising and inspirational on the other, no doubt this double-edged sword will split audiences and individuals.