FringeReview Scotland 2015
Connor King killed women, tore off their faces, put them in the fridge and hoovered after; or did he? Mike Cullen takes us on a journey with Connor from incarceration in a mental institution having his memoirs badly ghost written, to a self serving lawyer who launches and wins his appeal, to a reunion with his sister and stalker before we end up with a gory ending involving a fish knife.
Connor King is off his meds and can no longer see his fridge. And so we start on a journey into the psyche of a man who was convicted of many killings, of which he can remember none. We are then introduced to his sister and her Chief of Police boyfriend with a penchant for talking about himself out loud in the 3rd person and her worry that she is decomposing. In between the woman that wants to marry him without even meeting him and who becomes his alibi comes to our attention. When all three of them attempt to gain the attention of a lawyer stuck in the basement to whom all less than sane clients are sent the push to have Connor out of the hospital comes. With unreconstructed haste Connor finds himself at the party where the truth comes out and he has to step in to deliver the final message; we have to have Connor in our lives as it helps us avoid looking to closely at our own flaws and imperfections.
There is a maxim widely held in films that if you push the pace fast enough people fail to see the flaws in the storyline. The pace of this, and buying into the premise means you are unlikely to ponder how a corrupt policeman’s word would get a serial killer out the hospital and how said serial killer would be able to subdue four people – including a police chief with a gun – into restraints with nothing more than a fish knife. It leaves you a little breathless at times but there is no doubt that the question it asks – are evil people necessary in order to feel better about ourselves – does get a relatively decent airing.
Directorially this does leave you wondering why set changes cannot be slicker and less obvious. We are about to enter a festival in Edinburgh where the art of the set change is king. Whilst the pace was never dropped, having quicker and better set changes would help – if you leave the sister onstage at the beginning – why not have the stalker onstage from the beginning too? Also the lawyer’s entrance with the stalker was clumsy and detracted from the previous scene. Overall though Rasa Niurkaite showed she has a very stylish hand that works well for this type of new work and I will be keeping an eye out for future work.
Mike Cullen’s script was worked on within incredible time restraints and it shows some of that in performance. Notwithstanding the criticisms above he has an ear for the absurd and a means through which he can handle and hang it with consistently high standards.
Performances throughout were of a very high standard. Whilst I think Connor King does need to be more evil or more naïve the cast delivered and delivered well. I would watch diction though. There are a number of accents flowing about here which means the ear has to work very hard to keep up with tonal changes.
The set was functional, though again I would suggest a wee trip to some fare at Edinburgh to see how some companies handle changes and sets that need to be compact and moveable.
Overall this was one piece of theatre that I think could have legs. I liked elements of it and the nature of its genesis is such that imperfections are almost inevitable. Matched with such an able cast though and with a director who can handle it, it works well.