KILL ME NOW
by Brad Fraser.
Park Theatre (Park 200) Clifton Terrace Finsbury Park To 29 March 2015.
Run s 1hr 40min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7870 6876.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 February.
Gripping and complex in its maturity and splendidly produced.
It can be a small world, theatre. By the time this production closes the Park’s other auditorium will be playing Bryony Lavery’s Frozen, directed by Ian Brown – who, when running Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre introduced Brad Fraser to British theatre. After Brown left the Traverse Fraser’s mantle was taken-up by Braham Murray, Artistic Director at Manchester’s Royal Exchange.
Such sliding connections seem apt for Fraser’s work, with its metropolitan, metrosexual examinations of fluid relationships told in short, casually-shifting scenes. Their quality lies in the theatrical richness of the writing, which avoids glibness yet moves with tiger-like swiftness and bite.
Now, post-Manchester, Murray directs Fraser’s Kill Me Now. Short, sequential scenes are still the pattern, but the impact’s different because they are all set in one home. Instead of smart youngish people making their way through a snake-pit society crawling with tensions inherent in the search for emotional gratification, there’s a constant, if not easy love, between father and teenage son. An unselfish love (Jake has surrendered literary fame to care for his boy), and the risk of saying more is that the intense humanity, and humour, of people trying to do their best amid their faults and limitations gets stuffed-away in a pigeon-hole labelled ‘issues’.
Fraser opens and closes with a bath-time scene for father and son. Only, at the start Jake is giving teenage Joey the bath he cannot manage by himself with his muscular impairment. At the end, it’s Jake who needs help, having suddenly been attacked by one of those afflictions which lie stored in genetic make-up before exploding suddenly, midlife with devastating impact.
There’s a lot of bodily contact, the dilemma of sexual development in someone physically ill-equipped for sexual activity, and different shades of help from friends and lovers: Jake’s lover Robyn and Joey’s well-intentioned, ill-controlled (and well-named) friend Rowdy – who increases the surprisingly comic detail which humanises and intensifies the serious business of these lives.
The actors all respond with conviction to the perceptive writing and direction throughout the action, set on a stage attempting to recall Manchester’s in-the-Round Exchange. A small world, indeed.
Jake Sturdy: Greg Wise.
Joey Sturdy: Oliver Gomm.
Twyla Sturdy: Charlotte Harwood.
Robyn Dartona: Anna Wilson-Jones.
Rowdy Akers: Jack McMullen.
Director: Braham Murray.
Designer: Juliet Shillingford.
Lighting: Chris Davey.
Sound: Mike Walker.
Composer: Tayo Akinbode.
Movement: Fergus Early.
Voice/Accent coach: Yvonne Morley.
Associate sound: Harry Butcher.
Assistant voice/accent: Heather Hartnell.