Absolution at Park Theatre
Odd, twisted and disturbing, this one-man show is a strangely captivating look inside the mind of a serial killer on a holy quest for vengeance.
Absolution is written and performed by multi-talented playwright, screenwriter, poet and actor Owen O’Neill. A killer invites the audience to hear him describe his work, sometimes in gruesome detail. His motivations are fully fleshed-out: to seek out and destroy evil in the form of Catholic priests who abuse children. The audience very quickly becomes part of his world, not really knowing whether to support him or condemn him.
This is a strange show and certainly not for everyone: it’s dark and filled with hatred, and it’s all about murder and child abuse.
It is well written and well performed – Owen O’Neill really brings the character to life. Despite the rarity of such a person, despite the over-the-top nature of the show, despite being in a theatre, it feels quite real. It is believable that the person standing so close is really the deluded, psychopathic villainous hero that he claims to be.
Whether the protagonist is hero or villain is a point of confusion. He is certainly both, but should the audience cheer for him or condemn him? Should they be happy with his actions or disgusted? There is definitely no sympathy for his victims. It feels natural to support the outcome of stopping these people, but it still feels wrong to support this man and the way he goes about doing it. The effect makes for an engaging yet very disruptive character.
At times the production loses its momentum a little, often as the killer moves from one tale of murder to the next. These parts feel somewhat dull and it takes some time to build the narrative to a compelling point again.
Though Absolution is certainly a great example of writing and acting, many won’t enjoy the play simply because of its subject material. Others may struggle to stay focused throughout, but will ultimately come away with a sense of confused enjoyment.
Absolution is on at Park Theatre from 13th May until 12th June 2016, for further information or to book visit here.