Pros: An impressive production with a compelling script, novel staging and knock out performances.
Cons: Occasionally the script is overly ambitious and tries to incorporate too many themes.
The Royal Court is quickly becoming one of my favourite theatres thanks to the variety and quality of its productions, not to mention the comfy leather seats. This was my first visit to the small Upstairs studio. While the bench seats are on the small side, the studio is otherwise of an impressive quality.
Killology, on its face, tells a simple story about the impact of a violent video game. In reality, the play comprises three monologues delivered by the cast of three, each telling a different story featuring the same characters. These monologues overlap and interconnect, and are interspersed with scenes of dialogue between two of the characters. Rather than simply focusing on the topic of video games and moral panics, Killology considers the more compelling themes of violence and the relationships between fathers and sons.
The staging is simple but effective and comprises a few small mounds of computer cables surrounded on three sides by murky black walls. Cables also hang from the ceiling and the characters interact with the set well, walking over the mounds and hanging onto the cables as the story requires. The lighting is persuasive and powerful, especially in a scene featuring the playback of a violent video. Here, the audience becomes the video screen and is lit up in a stark, startling white light as the characters look on, distraught.
Aside from the potent script, which is at turns harrowing and witty, Killology’s real strength lies in the quality of its cast. Seán Gleeson, Richard Mylan and Sion Daniel Young all give phenomenal, emotionally wrenching performances which I will be thinking about for weeks to come. It’s hard to say I enjoyed Killology given the play’s bleak plots and emotionally draining nature but, similarly to Yerma at the Young Vic, there’s no denying how effective and powerful the production is. My only criticism, and it’s a bit of a stretch given how good Killology is overall, is that the script is occasionally too bleak and tries to introduce too many themes into an already complex narrative.
Killology is a staggeringly impressive play. Featuring great staging, a thoughtful script and an outstanding cast, this production is more polished and potent than many ‘main stage’ plays. Highly recommended.
Author: Gary Owen
Director: Rachel O’Riordan
Producer: Royal Court Theatre and Sherman Theatre Cardiff
Box Office: 020 7565 5000
Booking Until: 24 June 2017
Booking Link: https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/killology/#book