Killer Joe Aug 18th,’18

london west end


It’s the demise of a dysfunctional family amid thunder and lightning as a catalyst, as if the electricity fuels the actions of otherwise inert people. Mom has left long ago, with a new boyfriend, Hick. The daughter, Dottie, is a bit slow from when her mother tried to smother her with a pillow. The son, Chris, is on drugs most of the time and in dire need of money. Father Ansel watches tv and his live in girlfriend Sharla has a new man already. Trailer park idyll. Until Chris comes up with a plan. Mom has a life insurance made out to Dottie. 50.000 $. If they give 25.000 to crooked cop Joe, they could start a new life – away from the trailer park.

Bad luck, though. Joe wants his money up front… but  – with a glance at teenaged Dottie – he’s willing to take her as a “retainer”… it takes a while and a thunderstorm for Chris to realise what this entails, but by then Joe has moved into Dottie’s room and Chris’s scruples about killing his mom come too late. Unfortunately mother didn’t leave a cent of her insurance money to her daughter. All goes to her boyfriend, Hicks and Joe can’t be paid. Also it turns out that Sharla knew this all along, as a furious Joe points out. And in a rage fuelled by yet another furious thunderstorm detective Joe uncovers Sharla and Hicks’ plot. They’d used Chris’ desperation to organise the murder of his mom, then prepared to leave with the money. Only Joe was faster. He took revenge on Hicks, and now comes to lay claim on  Dottie, and when Chris tries to defeat him with a gun, they fight. Until Dottie has the gun and with every thunderous lightning takes out another family member until all she can say is : baby…. Joe smiles brilliantly,  a baby? Thunder claps….

This play lives only through the presence of the actors, otherwise being full of plotholes and leaps in thought. Luckily the participants in this play were extraordinary.  Sophie Cookson as Dottie was magnificent, Adam Gillen as her brother amazingly disgusting, Neve Mcintosh and Steffan Rhodri as the parents made you consider parricide and even the stage with its derelict trailer contributed to the tristesse of the story. I was positively surprised by how tremendous Orlando Bloom was, though. He was cold, dead, awful, grimey, disgusting, intimidating and frightening, all rolled into this cocksure ugly lawman who exists outside the law. Yes, he is very good looking, and yes, we all enjoyed seeing him in the buff for a couple of blessed seconds, but the depth of character he displayed was truly remarkable. He’s smaller than I’d expected him to be, but his personality was much larger than I thought.


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