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Review | Killology at Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London

By Ross Semple

Welcome to the world of ‘Killology’ – a computer game where players torture and kill their victims. Imagination is key here as the more creative you get with your torture methods the more points you earn.

The game’s creator Paul (Richard Mylan) tells the audience that playing ‘Killology’ is a deeply moral experience as the player does not escape the consequences. If you look away then points are deducted. It is a thought-provoking and challenging yet brilliant night of intense theatre.

The production consists of mostly monologues played directly to the audience by three characters all of whom are linked in some way. There is teenager Davey (Sion Daniel Young), his wayward and largely absent father Alan (Sean Gleeson), and the Killology creator Paul (Richard Mylan). However, this stunning production is about so much more than the moral responsibility of violent computer games.

It is about masculinity, the relationships between father and son and the responsibility of a parent towards their child. These themes give this production huge heart and, despite some of the unrelenting graphic text, it’s one of beauty, sensitivity and compassion.

The performances are committed, intelligent, often surprising and genuinely heartfelt. The small performance space gives a real intimacy which is both thrilling and uncomfortable, to the point where you start checking for your nearest exit. Sion Daniel Young as Davey is fantastic as the vulnerable teenager and victim of a violent crime. He is playful and highly skilled with the text and the smallest gesture or vocal nuance with make you laugh or reel back in horror.

Richard Mylan as ‘Killology’ creator Paul is charismatic as he struts and swaggers around the stage. His overt display of confidence hides a deeply troubled soul which remains damaged by the constant need to prove himself to an overbearing father. There is a blankness in Mylan’s face, a dullness that chills and we can see where the idea of ‘Killology’ was born. Sean Gleeson is heart-breaking as the absent father and delivers a complex and touching performance showing what it is to be a man in these troubling times.

This is perhaps not date night material however when the acting, writing and directing all come together the result is explosive.

Rating: 4/5

Killology plays at the Royal Court Theatre until 24th June.

Words by Matthew Hyde

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