By Caitlin McGrane
If you are of a sensitive disposition, I advise you to look away now. Killer Joe by Tracy Letts is not for the faint of heart. A tale of depravity, sexual violence, misogyny and poverty, it catapults the audience to 1990s Texas. Those, like myself, more familiar with the 2012 film version starring Matthew McConaughey might be au fait with the subject matter, but it doesn’t stop the stage version being just as shocking, intriguing and downright funny.
Indeed, I was startled once again by how witty the script is; the gloomy staging rarely lets the audience feel quite comfortable in the company of the characters. And this is no bad thing: the audience ought to find them fairly reprehensible.
‘Killer’ Joe Cooper, brilliantly played by Mark Diaco was equal parts charming and vicious; Michael Argus as Chris Smith both morally repugnant and sweetly caring; Sarah Hallam’s Sharla Smith was funny but almost wholly without sympathy; Ansel Smith played by Michael Robins was a loveable idiot and dangerously moronic. And then Dottie, everyone’s favourite character, indeed often the only character with whom the audience had any sympathy was played with just enough unhinged psychosis by Matilda Reed.
The staging was brilliant: I particularly enjoyed the use of the television (“Don’t you touch that television” might have brought in the biggest laugh of the night). The attention to detail on stage was also admirable and the use of props was interesting and inventive (special mention to the plastic sword); director Daniel Frederiksen has outdone himself. If you don’t mind being shocked and appalled, this production of Killer Joe is certainly worth hunting down.
Killer Joe is now showing at Revolt Artspace in Kensington from now until 23 November. Tickets (and Pozible campaign) at http://www.blackwatertheatre.com/#!bw-presents-killer-joe/c180r.