Killing Time at Park Theatre
Killing Time focuses on moribund retired cellist Hester and her well-meaning carer, Sara, who foils her plans for a graceful final curtain. It’s an intimate look at mortality, the right to die, and the way we treat the terminally ill, analysed through the lens of deliciously black humour.
A fun and irreverent romp, there’s a witty heartwarming quality to the show that keeps the audience on its toes, despite the rather dreary subject matter. The actors are on top form, delivering hilarious feminist quips with a believability and intimacy that’s relatively rare in theatre-based comedy. This excellent chemistry may be attributed to the fact that Hester and Sara are real-life mother and daughter Brigit Forsyth and Zoe Mills. A veritable powerhouse of talent, Forsyth is an acting veteran, starring in the BBC’s Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?. Though Mills is decidedly greener, she proves her prodigious ability in her debut full-length play, in which she also stars.
The script and characterisation are phenomenal; Killing Time has the cheeky feel of Calendar Girls, with a slightly darker twist, and there are plenty of belly laugh moments. This is offset beautifully with live music and a sensitive take on issues it’s easy to overdramatise; Adam Eden’s masterful direction is barely visible here, a testament to the skill of the whole team.
The sense of rawness continues into the set, appropriately simple and bleak, with subtle touches like the carpeting and wine bottles adding nuance. Similarly, the cardboard panels contribute to the feeling of impermanence and vulnerability that permeates the performance. However, this is let down by the revolving stage, which showcases different angles of the sparse pieces of furniture, but does little to add to the story. Instead, it feels like a gimmick that’s not been fully taken advantage of; changes in settings from lounge to prison cell are not brilliantly clear, and loud, distracting soundscapes take viewers out of the moment. The same can be said of the use of projection, which feels slightly clunky, but ultimately becomes a cathartic device that allows us to hold onto memories of those we’ve lost.
Born from Mills’s collection of those half-formed drunken ideas we all have about life and death, Killing Time addresses the questions we’re often too scared to think of. The gallows humour helps steer the theatre-goers away from a full-on existential crisis, but this tribute to mortality remains poignant.
Photo: Darren Bell
Killing Time is at Park Theatre from 7th February until 4th March 2017, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Killing Time here: