Theatre review: Kill Me Now at the Park Theatre
PUBLISHED: 09:26 09 March 2015
(c) Alex Brenner
The beautiful bonds of disabled life hit home in the affecting drama, says Caroline David.
After a 17-year hiatus, Greg Wise makes a welcome return to the stage in Canadian Brad Fraser’s delicately pitched disability play, Kill Me Now.
The play opens on a scene that conveys the tragic, beautiful bond between Jake [Wise] and his severely disabled, adolescent son Joey [Oliver Gomm]: Jake is giving Joey a bath and Joey has an erection. Jake gently makes light of it. Throughout, Fraser repeatedly gives his characters well observed comic lines to show that the dynamic between a disabled person and their carer renders neither party a saint and requires constant attention. When Jake also develops a disabling physical condition, help comes in the unlikely guise of Joey’s best friend – mentally disabled, womanizing Rowdy [Jack McMullen]. Aided by regular visits from Jake’s spiky sister, Twyla [Charlotte Harwood], this unlikely modern family tries to make the best of it.
Generously billed as a romantic comedy, the density of the multiple, harrowing scenes feels, at times, a tad indulgent. Director Braham Murray never nails down the exact social milieu but this is a canny move. Rather, the text gives us clues: Jack was a waiter before he became a published author, he uses the excuse of weekly hockey games to cover up his trysts with married Robyn [Anna Wilson-Jones], Twyla works in a dead-end computer job, and everyone knocks back plenty of whisky to cope. But the set is minimal and these echoes of bleak Raymond Carver America only pepper the play, so the story’s universality is driven home.
The acting is excellent: Wise and Gomm are superb physical performers; Harwood is vulnerable and febrile, bristling with anger and hurt pride. While Rowdy’s character is not credible, McMullen’s energy and charisma make for welcome relief and Wilson-Jones’ tender performance brings a heartfelt dignity to these broken lives.
Rating: Four stars
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