Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Review: Kill Me Now at the Park Theatre

Kill Me Now
Park Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 24h February 2015

After a 17 year hiatus, Greg Wise has made a triumphant return to the London stage in Brad Fraser’s Kill Me Now at the Park Theatre, in its intimate Park 200 auditorium. Wise plays widower Jake Sturdy who spends all of his time looking after his disabled son Joey played by Oliver Gomm, with some help from the ‘services’.

The play launches the audience straight into it, with a naked Joey being carried to the bath by his father who washes him. While doing so he notices that his son has become sexually aroused, something they were told may not be possible given his condition. However Joey’s leap into puberty is problematic as his twisted hands mean that he is unable to do anything to help him in the situation. He feels ugly and convinced that he will never find a woman who will want to be with him. 

Jake and Joey are surrounded by a close network including Jake’s sister Twyla (Charlotte Harwood), Joey’s friend Rowdy Akers (fantastically played by Jack McMullen) and Robyn (Anna Wilson-Jones), a married former student of Jake’s with whom he’s having an affair while his family thinks he is playing hockey every Tuesday evening. However, once Jake discovers he has an illness which will severely interfere with his ability to look after his son, the parent-child role becomes reversed as Joey takes on the responsibility of ensuring his father is well looked after and that his wish to not return to hospital is carried out, even with Twyla demanding an ambulance be called. 

This intense production is broken up with some fantastic comedic lines delivered beautifully by the cast, but Gomm in particular had the audience laughing out loud. This comic relief is welcome as we witness how Jake has made Joey his whole world making his disabled son his excuse, with no friends apart from his sister and Robyn. The relationship between Robyn and Jake is both welcoming and sad as they are both clearly in love, but Robyn’s husband and sons are holding her back from committing to Jake fully. When Jake asks that Robyn continue their Tuesday night meetings with Joey instead of him, we suddenly realise the seriousness of Jake’s illness – he never wavers in his determination to ensure his son is looked after. 

The passage of time is hard to determine, but it is touching to see Joey mature right in front of our eyes into a young man, dressed to impress in his suit for his graduation from school. His relationship with best friend Rowdy is typical of two teenage boys and is therefore entirely believable. Both Wise and Gomm are outstanding in this honestly brutal production. Director Braham Murray and the entire cast create a remarkable piece which will definitely tug at the heartstrings - the distressing scenario that the characters found themselves in, unsurprisingly, had most audience members in tears by the play’s close.

Reviewed by Laura Kate Jones

Kill Me Now runs at the Park Theatre until Sunday 29th March 2015.
Please visit for information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Alex Brenner

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