Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"Killer Joe" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Although "Killer Joe" appears to be sold on the basis of Phil Nicol's involvement as Ansel, the stars of the piece are Tony Law as a deadpan Joe and Charlotte Jo Hanbury as the unworldly Dottie. The production successfully brings out the humour and the darkness in the play and doesn't shirk from its violence and immensely uncomfortable moments.

We're quickly brought up to speed with the members of our trailer-trash family and their financial predicament which results in them resolving to have their mother/ex-wife murdered to get their hands on her life insurance. The dialogue is pretty snappy and the laughs come easily but as things progress the violence becomes more pervasive.

Law has a real stage presence here and does quietly intimidating very well, while Hanbury's performance is both incredibly brave and subtle when required. The nudity is appropriate to the piece and contributes to the feeling of deep unease that is intended.

The tale is very well plotted and holds tight right up until the end, when the quickfire resolution gives an immediate sense of "that was pretty cool" but which quickly gives way to "that didn't actually make a lot of sense, did it?". It's such a shame that the ending doesn't live up to the rest of the show but it shouldn't detract from what is a very strong production.

One final note - the set design for the trailer is truly incredible - if this isn't the best set at this year's fringe I'll eat my chicken drumstick...

"Killer Joe"
is at the Pleasance Courtyard until the 27th (not the 15th) at 18:00.

We've since found out that the set was designed by Simon Scullion - we'd have credited him sooner if there had been a programme available on the night.