We were blown away this weekend by the Raleigh Ensemble Players’ presentation of the off-broadway show “Killer Joe”. As a member of the audience, you’re practically injected into the living space of the trashy trailer that takes up 80% of the little theater, with three thin rows of chairs lining each side of it (we were on the “Pabst Blue Ribbon” side). It was like watching dysfunctional fireworks. My friend Ryan played the core role of Chris, down and out and looking for a way out. It was awesome to watch him nail the part.
SPOILER WARNING When we first walked in, we sat down the chairs in the first row, but having been clued in that we were about to be exposed to nudity, violence and general mayhem, we decided to move to the back third row for a only slightly-more-distant perspective, from where we watched the fake blood hit the people that took our seats in the front (yes this really did happen). The play progressed through layers of dirty underwear and cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon, as Chris dug himself deeper into trouble (and earned quite an array of battle scars on the way). The all-out carnage that was the finale put this one over the top. Ryan was perfectly cast, as his martial arts skills allowed him to hone the final fight into every-man-for-himself trailer-shaking fun. If you’ve got an appetite for black comedy, and you can appreciate a play that can at times make you squirm with discomfort, check it out in Asheville at the massive Stoneleaf Theatre Festival, May 27 – June 5. It’s your last chance!