killers (Owl & Cat) – theatre review

Pain, depression and death  get a working-over in killers. The Owl & Cat’s production is the world premiere of New York playwright Kevin Armento’s work.

Miranda’s (Holly Chadwick) earliest memories are destructive thoughts – mayhem, torture and split blood. At primary school she meets and befriends Bobby Barrett (Charles Russell). The pair bond over their collective negativity. In no time, they are dishing out punishment, firstly to animals and then laying traps to ensnare humans. A new girl, Julia (Charlotte Rose Watson), enters school and is drawn to Miranda. They and Bobby become collaborative filmmakers. Julia is the star, Bobby the director and Miranda the screenwriter. Invariably, the subject matter is murder and the works prove highly popular among fellow students.

A second thread running through killers involves the deadly thoughts of an adult woman (Marnie). A male colleague (Adam Marsh) hits on her. She succumbs to his charms, but cannot exorcise her demons. Eventually, the seemingly disparate threads in the play come together in what proves to be a clever twist. The ending remains open to interpretation.

The story unfolds through a combination of narrated live action and 10 short video vignettes, created by Blake Hay. These add urgency and punch. Director Gabrielle Savrone’s pacing is spot on, the transition between scenes seamless.

Chadwick brings a vivid realism to her persona as the anti-hero and was the standout for me. Russell, Watson, Marnie and Marsh lend able support. The other actors – Seth Balen and Gideon Cohen – play smaller roles. Joanne Davis requires greater confidence as the narrator, which, I dare say, is a matter of developing more self-belief. The set is sparse, but effective – bare walls, some shrubbery, a double bed and a video screen above the bed.

Overall, the material presented in killers is grim, but thought provoking. The play runs for 65 minutes without interval. It’s on at The Owl and Cat Theatre, 34 Swan Street, Richmond until 26 August 2017.

Alex First

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