Perhaps it was timed to coincide with the centenary of the Russian Revolution, but Griffin Independent and Little Ones Theatre appear to have pulled off a serious coup here. Merciless Gods is short story collection by Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap and a man renowned for not being afraid to jab at the darkest and most shameful aspects of Australia’s national character. Upon publication, the anthology was widely praised, but also described as “out there” and “shocking”, with reviewers teasing fictional worlds governed by brutal sex, murder and random violence. Difficult subject matter on the page and not an obvious candidate for a theatrical reworking. Nevertheless, Dan Giovannoni, of Melbourne queer theatre collective Little Ones Theatre, has managed to prise Tsiolkas’ savage stories off the page and craft them into a fierce script. By all accounts, the performance adds another, very visceral layer to the already charged stories, without overlooking the vein of human tenderness running beneath.