Reviewed – 25th February 2020
“you wouldn’t expect a play about dealing with grief to be funny, but this one is”
Sometimes dark comedy can come from pain, as a way of coping, as catharsis or simply as something that happens. Writer Josephine Starte says: “Then a close friend died suddenly and depression turned into layers of grief: hysteria, disbelief, panic, despondency. Being this heartbroken seemed like something that could easily ruin my life, and my impulse was to write about it, to take back a little control.”
And Killing It is the result. Three women try to cope with the loss of a loved one in different ways, doing what works for them, or trying to. They support each other, not always understanding, but wanting all of them to find a way of being that works. The girlfriend, Molly, played by Starte, has turned her grief into a standup act, much as in real life she has fuelled this fine piece of writing. Molly is funny, warm and likeable, sometimes stepping out to share her thoughts with the audience; pieces from her show. Doña Crol is the mother, channeling her energy into making YouTube videos about flower arranging, and the grandmother is the fabulous Janet Henfrey, full of mischief and plotting to assassinate the president. Three ages of women, three different ways of coping. There is strength, vulnerability, laughter and weeping on stage, and plenty of laughter and a few tears from the audience too. Director Lily McLeish’s decision to have three sections of stage, each inhabited by one woman, gives a sense of their aloneness, a place they return too after being with each other. Anna Reid’s set frames these three areas, creating believable environments that complement the characters of the women and their interactions, helped by Anthony Doran’s lighting and Julian Starr’s sound.
Perhaps you wouldn’t expect a play about dealing with grief to be funny, but this one is. It’s also full of feeling and warmth. It was a pleasure to see two older women on stage, especially Henfrey, who is in her eighties, and refreshing that a young woman can write so well for older characters.
Reviewed by Katre