Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“you can’t tell your mum the streets are full of psychos and it’s pure fluke you get home alive every night”


Sherman Theatre and The Royal Court Theatre. , Sherman Theatre , March-28-17
Killology  by Sherman Theatre and The Royal Court Theatre. The Sherman Theatre declares its remit to be: to provide “Compelling theatre for Cardiff and beyond.” With this very moving production, Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan succeeds on every count. Now established as one of our leading playwrights Gary Owen gives us a big play and though it mainly reveals the more basic of human feelings, he demonstrates an elegant beauty and music in the way he puts words together and into the mouths of the strong characters he has created.

Again the Sherman studio demonstrates what a great atmosphere it has. Designer, Gary McCann has created a dark world of silver coiled rope and wire, this is perfectly enhanced by the subtle lighting of Kevin Treacy and by the empathic music and sound from Simon Slater. A chasm where life revolves.

We learn quickly that this is going to be a tough one when the first character we meet, a grizzled mature man, tells us he is there a commit a murder! The circumstances leading up to this nasty situation gradually become clear as the taught narrative progresses. For much of the play the audience is addressed directly. Our murderer Alan is followed by a young lad Davey, who we later discover is Alan’s son and the reason behind his frustration. Davey also kicks off with a startling remark.

Next we meet Paul the final member of this seemingly unrelated trio. He’s the ‘happy’ one; he’s made millions out of developing a video game ‘Killology’. Here as in Jennifer Hayley’s The Nether it is posited that if we work off our despicable feelings out ‘on line’ it will prevent us from exercising them in the real world. But we soon learn that it is the pain of hurt inside that does the worst damage.

All three actors are superb. They don’t give us performances, they totally captivate and engage us in their lives. In the closing moments of the play it is the strong love that both these sons show for their ailing parents that they make so real and is the highlight of the play that gives us so many strong emotional tugs.

As in Owen’s first play Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco it looks as if we are going to get three separate monologues. In this play the way Owen slowly links the three lives together is even more intriguing and imaginative.

Sion Daniel Young – Davey takes us so skillfully and colourfully along a road that leads from his days as an innocent but bullied child to full tear away, destructive teenager. One character, who features strongly in the narrative but we never see (one last, maybe his only, act of kindness from Alan, Davey’s father is to buy him a little dog, Maisie.) I felt I could actually see Maisie snuggling onto Davey’s neck. But the comfort was not to last very long.

Alan in the strong, very capable hands of Seán Gleeson is a man who just can’t seem to get things right. It’s Davey’s funeral: Alan and Davey’s mum have a short, sad drunken reunion. He has concluded that Davey’s preoccupation with “Killology’ has made a major contribution to his son’s waywardness. He turns up with real versions of the instruments of torture used in the video ‘game’. He approaches Paul with a heavy hammer and sharp chisel as the lights black out on the first half of this fascinating drama.

From a ‘Crazy Gary’ original, Richard Mylan has grown in strength as an actor and totally commands the stage as he relates the father and son conflict that seem to have arisen from his father’s seeming jealousness of his son’s amazing success.

These excellent actors have come together with Owen’s skillful and intelligent writing and the firm, wise hand of director Rachel O’Riordan to give us an outstanding piece of theatre. London’s Royal Court Theatre is in for another Gary Owen treat!

Photo by Mark Douet

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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