The Omnivore: December: Somerville Theatre: The Slutcracker
Last December the Somerville Theatre welcomed the heathen hordes with The Slutcracker, a risqué sendup of a certain cherished Yuletide ballet that saw dancers stripping down to their skivvies. Wowing its rowdy audiences, the production had to add extra shows and was lauded in the local press as the latest, greatest holiday tradition. And indeed, this year The Slutcracker returns starting 12/10.
However crowd-pleasing the show may be, though, how many people will really want to see it twice? Billed as "a sexy freaky holiday zeitgeist spectacular," The Slutcracker is still typical new burlesque—in short, a pseudo-subversive blend of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a Tuesday matinee at Centerfolds. With each revealed set of pasties, you may well find yourself yearning for what Boston’s really lacking: a thriving culture of fringe theater.
We’re still a safe city, still emerging from our "Banned in Boston" days, and so a sexpot "Sugar Dish Fairy" may seem shocking. Yet we need more than titillation: We need theater that makes us think, that dares to anger or even bewilder us. In her inaugural season at the American Repertory Theatre, artistic director Diane Paulus has excelled with surreal interactive extravaganzas like Sleep No More, an update of Macbeth set in an abandoned school, but thus far these kinds of shows have been imported from other cities. Generating such productions here may be a riskier proposition—and can’t be sold in a six-word tag line—but it’s how a city learns to lead culturally, instead of follow. Now that’s a tradition worth starting.