I know I’m not the only person in the world who thinks The Killer is kind of…well, pointless. On a good day, Eugene Ionesco’s story could be kind of bonkers with that whole “murderers are destructive, but we’re all…like, here. Hey, what is that over there…why, geese and anarchy of course!"
Or something, I don’t know…shit escalates out of proportion (even for absurdist theatre) and however you go about staging The Killer, the story hinges on some ‘enh’ plot moments. Michael Feingold’s new translation of The Killer - now open at Theatre for a New Audience - doesn’t exactly excavate those problems. Berenger falls in love (and mistakenly thinks he’s engaged, no really) with Dany after meeting her for, like, 15 seconds. This should advance the story - well, it does advance the story, sans any sort of logical coherence - but it never was a moment to be taken seriously (because how could you) or a moment of hilarity (as I think it should be) as Beringer outdoes Marius and Cosette in the whole “falling in love instantly” department. So, how are we supposed to respond? To scenes like that and The Killer in general?
For a show that tries to say a lot, almost nothing comes across - several days after seeing the show and not one piece of dialogue is fresh in my mind. And don't even get me started on that drawn-out third act...what was that?
Thankfully, Darko Tresnjak is on hand to stage this production pretty well. Two revolving turn-tables and a blank canvas set makes for a strikingly sparse, purgatory-like void. It’s a perfect echo to all the darkness and moodiness encompassing Berenger’s existence.
And when all else fails, Michael Shannon is here, a casting decision that will disappoint exactly zero persons. Berenger’s motivations and thoughts are like fucked up Mad Libs, but at least Shannon is “go big or go home!” Berenger - he’s not boring, I’ll give him that.
Kristine Neilsen, playing several roles, Ma Piper most notably, is also a delight. When she is leading her not-revolution (her nonvolution!) in the second act, you can’t peel your eyes off her, not even for a second. I’m hoping with her years on the theatre scene - and her raised profile after her stellar performance in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike last year - will result in more character-actress roles like this for her; she’s perfectly suited for them.
If I were told that The Killer was trolling me, I’d believe it. However, there are some aspects I remember quite fondly of even though I have no idea what the hell was going on or what the hell is driving the “story."
Ticket Provided by the Production
Photo Credit: Gerry Goodstein