‘Killer Joe’ – Theatre Review

I had no idea what to expect when I was offered a ticket to see Orlando Bloom in a play called ‘Killer Joe.’ Firstly, I had never heard of the play, film or production, and secondly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Orlando Bloom’s acting. Don’t get me wrong, he is a good looking man, he can smoulder, he can pout but can he truly act? That was a question I was unsure on the answer. He wasn’t an awful actor but to carry a play, with a live audience, where there are no re-takes, that is a different skill and one I was unsure Bloom had. Luckily, he proved me wrong.

Killer Joe is a play about a corrupt cop, Joe, who also moonlights as a hitman. He agrees to kill Chris’s mother so that Chris and his father can take the insurance money and Chris won’t have to have his legs broken by his bookies. However, Joe takes a liking to 20 year old Dottie, the virgin sister of Chris who has learning difficulties and as the family are poor, Chris agrees to give Joe his sister.

This is an apologetically violent, twisted and uncomfortable play. Bloom as Joe is charming, charismatic, psychopathic and keeps the audience is a state of shock and tension for the whole play. By the interval I was exhausted. I didn’t really breath for the whole play and the tension was palpable in the theater.

At times, the nudity felt like it was less of a dramatic tool and more of  a selling point to the audience. The female nudity was relatively frequent and full frontal, from an artistic viewpoint I understood that Dottie’s was to show Joe’s dominance over her; I am still unsure of why the step-mother needed to be completely naked at the start of the play, unless it was used to suggests the unfulfilled desire Chris has for her? To make it slightly more fair, the audience does get to see Bloom’s naked bottom, and it was a lovely, toned bottom. Yet, did it add anything to the plot or tension, or was it simply to add some gender balance and to please the audience? I am not going to lie, when being offered the ticket, the promise of a naked Bloom was a selling point.

Sophie Cookson, who played Dottie, and Adam Gillan, who was her brother Chris, were outstanding. The innocence and sharp naivety of Dottie contrasted with the regret and hysteria of Chris, beautifully. For me these two were the selling point of the play, although Bloom’s bum was a close second. This is not to discount Bloom, he played the stalking, creepy Joe excellently and created this menacing aura throughout.

On the whole, I enjoyed this play but there are still decisions that the director and cast made that I don’t quite understand. Some have called this a feminist interpretation and that I have to disagree wholeheartedly with. This play is misogynistic, it reiterates the power of men, how some abuse that power and the way that women are often seen as a commodity. However, that does not mean that as a woman I was not intrigued by it, unsettled, uncomfortable and at times horrified. But is that not what certain plays are meant to do? They are meant to stay with us, even if it is because you were disgusted at the way someone was treated.

A final note on Bloom, he surprised me and I may not doubt him as much in the future.

Image result for killer joe play


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