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Review | ‘Killer’ at Shoreditch Town Hall

By Fabio Crispim

This world premiere by Philip Ridley is playing in rep along with his first, seminal play A Pitchfork Disney. Once again we find ourselves deep in the bowels of Shoreditch Town Hall for what is a chilling, intense and menacing evening.

Killer is a series of three monologues performed by John MacMillan. The audience are herded around the space listening to MacMillan’s voice via binaural headphones clamped to their ears. “Binaural” literally means “using both ears” and so the audio is a genuine 360 degree sound, which is reproduced exactly how the human ear is meant to hear it.

Apart from the odd strobe lighting and flashes, nearly the entire performance takes place in pitch black. This plays on all our primal fears. It’s claustrophobic, dark and with only MacMillan’s voice in your ear for company it is genuinely scary stuff.

MacMillan is a truly gifted storyteller. He gives us three separate monologues with three different characters, each with their own distinct voice. In true Ridley style, the themes of violence, blood, animal mutilation, destruction and societal breakdown make for a tough and demanding evening.

MacMillan’s voice is incredible – threatening, soothing, comical, violent and sensual. Thanks to the binaural headphones he penetrates the skull and stays there whispering and crooning. It sounds like he’s right behind you, in front of you, to the left, to the right, so close that you expect to feel his breath on your skin. It feels like he is targeting only you and in the pitch black you simply have no way of knowing.

This new work by Ridley is what you would expect from this unique East London playwright – violence collides with poetry in the same sentence and despite the confrontational subject matter there is a playfulness to the writing. The last monologue in particular feels like more of an experiment, which is not a bad thing. He is always exciting, entertaining, demanding and never boring.

This is an immersive and unique theatre experience by one of our most famous in-your-face playwrights. It’s most certainly not date material but if you fancy a challenging and nerve-shredding evening then be prepared to let all your inner fears and phobias take over.

Rating – 4*

Killer runs at the Shoreditch Town Hall until 3rd April.

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Words by Matthew Hyde

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