BWW Review: Coal Mine Has Another Huge Hit with KILLER JOE
The Coal Mine Theatre solidifies itself as a key player in the Toronto theatre scene with its gritty production of Tracy Lett's KILLER JOE. Starring Madison Walsh, Matthew Edison, Matthew Gouveia, Paul Fauteux and Vivien Endicott-Douglas, the play encompasses a son's plot to murder his mother in an attempt to collect an insurance sum from her death. This immoral, dark and gory narrative is brought to life by director Peter Pasyk in usual Coal Mine quality - to put it simply, it's a hit.
The play opens with a troubled man, Chris (Gouveia), entangled with loan sharks and drug dealers who walks in on his barely dressed step-mother Sharla (Walsh). Stricken by poverty, he proposes to his father, Ansel (Fauteux) his plan to kill his mother in order to collect money. They look to hire Killer Joe Cooper (Edison), a county detective who also happens to be a trusted hit man. The plan is simple: they collect $50,000 from the insurance and have to pay Killer Joe $20,000 - but if only it was that easy. As collateral for his work, Joe requests Ansel's daughter Dottie (Endicott-Douglas) and the two engage in an uncomfortable and forced sexual relationship.
What makes the Coal Mine Theatre unlike any other is its ability to produce high-quality shows in small, intimate settings. The quality of the set and lighting design, acting and sound - paired with the small corridors and tight seats makes it a truly immersive theatrical experience. This action and drama packed production is a scene right out of a binge-worthy television show.
Think of your favourite crime television show; dark and gritty, unforgiving and bold, and throw yourself right in the middle of it - that's KILLER JOE. It's a 90-minute episode of the most thrilling, blood pumping and scary action. Sitting in the front row brings you right into the living room (literally) and makes you feel like a fly on the wall. Gunshots, thrown tables, cries and fights; you're thrown right into the fold.
The performances from the entire cast were exceptional; believable in every way. Anchored by Matthew Edison's portrayal of Killer Joe, whose characterization of the dark and creepy killer was so real, many in the audience were covering their eyes out of fear. His interactions with Dottie were so painfully uncomfortable and unsettling, making their storyline heartbreakingly real. Madison Walsh also gives a performance of a lifetime, notably in the latter half of the production - reaching deep for gut-wrenching emotion and pain. The entire cast and production had layers of truth, it almost wasn't even theatre, but rather a glimpse into reality.
The successes of the Coal Mine Theatre cannot be stressed enough. This production will no doubt sell out. Act fast and head on over the Toronto's east-end for one of the best pieces of live theatre you will see this year. Playing until April 24. For more information, visit coalminetheatre.com.