BWW Review: KILL ME NOW at Sejong Cultural Center S Theater, 'I Have a Right to Choose...'
Love, death, growth, family...There are no exact words to pinpoint what KILL ME NOW is about or how to define the essence of the play. To borrow the words of the company, KILL ME NOW is a story of them who are special but ordinary and a story of us. The play deals with issues that we know are important but hesitant to talk about. Written by Canadian playwright, Brad Fraser, the black comedy KILL ME NOW had the first show of its third Korean production on May 11th at Sejong Cultural Center S Theater.
KILL ME NOW is a story about a talented writer, Jake Sturdy who sacrificed everything for his son with cerebral palsy after his wife died and a 17-year-old boy, Joey Sturdy whose father takes care of him in almost every part of his daily life but dreams of living independently. The two love and care for each other dearly, but with the continuous stress and fatigue burdening them, their special yet normal lives begin to fracture. There are three more characters in KILL ME NOW, Jake's younger sister Twyla who has problems of her own but always is there for Jake and Joey and Joey's friend from school, Rowdy who has fetal alcohol syndrome. Last but not least, Robin who is in a relationship with Jake while struggling with her marriage life. One outstanding aspect of KILL ME NOW is that every single character is alive with detail and a clear narrative. Though the backbone of the plot is about Jake and Joey, the narratives of Twyla, Robin, and Rowdy play a part in enriching KILL ME NOW overall and gives the audience different topics to think about.
KILL ME NOW deals with numerous issues that are closely related to modern society, but if I had to choose the two most important topics, it would be life and death, specifically disability and euthanasia. Out of the five characters, three characters, Jake, Joey and Rowdy all have disabilities. In the case of Joey and Rowdy, they are born with the disability and Jake later realizes that he has an incurable degenerative disease where a new bone is abnormally growing from his spine, which later causes him to have trouble walking, speaking, and eventually leading him to be incapable of daily life. Though there are several theatrical works that have characters with disabilities, it is not common to see as much as KILL ME NOW provides and rarely the genre of the work is a black comedy. Also, euthanasia is an issue that is not dealt with in many productions, as it is a highly controversial topic. However, that does not mean it should not be discussed. KILL ME NOW shows the issue of euthanasia in a way that clearly expresses what it is about and why it is necessary, focusing on one perspective on how we can look at death. There is a line of Jake's where he states, "I have a reason and a right to end my pain and my life the way I want to," which shows that sometimes euthanasia could be considered as a way to heal somebody rather than just kill somebody.
Two characteristics that stand out in KILL ME NOW are the acting and the lines of the show. As this is a theatrical piece that deals heavily on characters with disabilities and considering the fact that the cast is all people with no disabilities, you expect to see awkwardness within the acting. However, for this year's production, the actors seemed to have understood the special conditions and portrayed the characters realistically. In the case of the two actors who play the part of Joey, almost during the whole show, they are on a wheelchair, legs and arms crossed and slurring the words, showing the difficulty of speaking. The run time for this show is 100 minutes, so it is amazing to see how the actors stay within the character throughout the whole show despite it being a difficult role. Also, the actors who play the role of Rowdy have an important part in the show as he is a character with several complications. Rowdy not only has fetal alcohol syndrome but in one of his lines, he mentions that he has emotional dysregulation disorder. Even with his conditions, he is the character that stands by everybody, so the actor who plays this role has to show the various sides of Rowdy, where he is aggressive but also when he is reliable.
In the case of the lines of the book, there are some that the audience may feel taken aback. Commonly with productions that have main characters with disabilities, the story tends to be positive and the other minor characters are almost always hospitable toward them. KILL ME NOW is realistic and refreshing in a sense that it is more realistic. Rather than all of the characters being hospitable toward Joey, there are some lines that may seem brutal but realistic. For example, in one of the scenes where Joey and Twyla are discussing euthanasia, Joey keeps arguing that they have to do what Jake wants and Twyla tries to persuade him to think differently, however, Joey is stubborn with the idea. Then, Twyla shouts to Joey, "He may be your father but he is also my brother!" which shows how Twyla desperately needs Jake to be with her as he is her only family left. Not only that, in a scene where Joey and Rowdy are talking, Rowdy gets frustrated with Joey and tells him that Jake has made an empire just for him but that it is not the reality, therefore that he should man up and start living independently.
KILL ME NOW is a show that deals with several controversial topics and manages to present a different perspective to understand these topics. Through five characters with problems of their own, the audience learns not only about what family means but what death and genuine love are all about. I cannot emphasize enough how much I recommend watching KILL ME NOW.
This tragic but wonderful story of Joey and Jake ends on July 6th at the Sejong Cultural Center S Theater. Tickets start at 40,000 KRW and can be purchased at www.globalinterpark.com or at the box office. Remember to check for discounts and the cast prior to buying tickets.
For more information, please visit www.globalinterpark.com.