Helter Skelter

Mike Narouei
Veto Productions
Assembly George Square

Helter Skelter

How did the supposedly reserved Susan Atkins become one of Charles Manson’s followers committing murders at his request?

Mike Narouei’s play Helter Skelter traces her story from a short scene with her abusive father John Atkins (Joey Maragakis) to her time as a stripper and eventual life on the Mansons' isolated ranch.

The broad brushstroke narrative packs a lot in without ever giving us well-rounded characters. All the male characters are unsympathetic. Manson (Mike Narouei) is depicted as a one-dimensional bully in every scene he appears. When he first speaks with the stranger Susan, it is to tell her he thought she “was worth fucking”. Yet characters speak of him as “charismatic”.

Susan (Elanor Wood) herself is painted more sympathetically having conversations with others, though in this play, the outcome of each scene is obvious. There is no complexity.

The cast does a reasonable job in giving us the cartoon Manson soap, but at the end of the play, we are none the wiser about Susan Atkins or the Manson gang.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna