Boy Crazy Psycho Slut
Jo Dellapina with Unmuted Participants
C ARTS | C venues | C digital
Just out of kindergarten, Jo (author and sole performer Jo Dellapina) is categorised as ‘boy crazy’ when her attempt to kiss a boy from her school becomes instead something like a rugby tackle. It is the first, but by no means the last, time Jo will be labelled, sometimes by her mother, her workmates, society in general and even by herself, as she ages from five to fifty. Boy Crazy Psycho Slut chronicles Jo’s efforts to determine her own identify and possibly find love in the process.
Dellapina skilfully develops Jo’s personality from being shaped by other people to the point where she is confident enough to offer contrary opinions to those expressed offensively by a superior officer in her workplace. The vital role of music in helping Jo develop is made clear in her wide-eyed appreciation of rock’n’roll and even country and western. Yet Jo constantly struggles against the unfair way she, and women in general, are categorised. No matter her age, Jo remains upset by the judgment imposed by her hyper-critical and embittered mother.
Although Dellapina occasionally adopts personas other than Jo—her brother and, oddly, a pet dog—the approach does not feel completely comfortable. Boy Crazy Psycho Slut works best as a single character monologue.
Dellapina’s depiction of Jo’s maturing is convincing. As a child, Jo is hyperactive, almost bursting through the screen with excess energy. Her passion does not diminish with time but becomes more focused—on music or travel—giving the character a more thoughtful, and thankfully restrained, personality.
The script has a dry wit. Jo’s country and western phase results in her resembling a fashionista covered in dust. News of a boyfriend being injured prompts suitable regrets, although the characteristic which Jo remembers most is him having only 2% body fat.
Carol Becker, who directs, treats the show as a recording of a staged performance. There is the impression it is recorded in a single take including the occasional verbal slip. No effort is made to exploit the opportunities offered by the filming process—as on stage, the passage of time is reflected in alterations to the tone of Dellapina’s performance or her hair / clothing—the background to the monologue remains constant as a teen’s bedroom despite changes to period or place.
The only point at which this approach jars is the conclusion. Having taken Jo to a conventional happy ending with her in a stable relationship, the script abruptly offers alternatives with the character remaining single (and possibly self-deludingly) content with her position or aggressively mourning a life she never got to live. The change between the different scenarios is signalled by Dellapina simply turning her back on the camera before starting a new speech which is initially puzzling for the audience.
Rough edges aside, Boy Crazy Psycho Slut is a thoughtful and entertaining examination of the tendency to arbitrarily categorise women and a fine introduction to an engaging character.
Reviewer: David Cunningham