Killer @ Shoreditch Town Hall

Tuesday 28/02/17

Cast: John Macmillan

Running Time: 90 mins, no interval

Kiiler is the second half of the Philip Ridley double bill playing at Shoreditch Town Hall (the other, his first work Pitchfork Disney, is reviewed here). The premiere of this piece shares the same director in Jamie Lloyd, and many of the dark themes and violence of his other work. Killer is an experiment with binaural sound, and most of the piece is performed with headphones and played in darkness, which is exceptionally effective at creating mood.

The work contains 3 sections, each voiced by a different character and varying both tone and quality. The first is very typical Ridley, using violence and is very reminiscent of Pitchfork Disney. The second (which is possibly the best written and most interesting section) very successfully combines both the mundane and trivial with the surreal and unexplained to great effect – it is witty and beautifully performed. The final piece is possibly the piece that uses the space to the most effect (even though it is still mainly in darkness) and when the lights come up later in the piece, it makes a great moment.

Jamie Lloyd takes a major risk with Killer in that most of the piece is played in darkness or in very low light and the audience is unable to see performer John Macmillan. The piece also experiments with binaural sound which is used to varying degrees – though crucial in the first piece the latter two feel more like BBC Radio plays. This is only partially successful and the piece loses theatricality and the nature of a shared experience.

Huge kudos must go to John Macmillan who delivers a detailed and highly skilful performance. He populates the three pieces with varying and well rounded characters who are easily identifiable, which could have been difficult for less talented performers. It is in some respects a shames that we as an audience do not get to see much of his work, though this is used to great effect in the final section of the piece.

Summary: A well-crafted if not startling trio of pieces that showcase a skilful performance. ***

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