Killology at the Sherman Theatre – Review

Killology at the Sherman Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet

Gary Owen’ Killology  premieres at the Sherman Theatre, a co-production with the Royal Court, London. In Cardiff it is found in the same space as Iphigenia in Splott. Like Iphigenia it is stark, plain speaking, challenging. And beautiful.

As I read the playtext this morning, still trying to make sense of what my eyes had witnessed, the beauty of what happened on stage at the Sherman was reinforced. There is something in the way Gary Owen writes, and in the direction of Rachel O’Riordan that creates our reality. The pace, the emphasis, the tone, which can’t be read- but can be written and can be taken to the blackest places, whilst teasing you with light.

In Killology lies the challenge, of destiny or freewill, of the choices of circumstance, of society. Gary Owen completely nails society, and I have no clue how. Three men take the stage.

We are introduced to Alan. The weight of man successfully conveyed by Seán Gleeson. We learn that this man has lived, now with regret, an unfilled father. A role which can never be regained. Whilst Gleeson plays the role with stoicism, there is a carefully balanced emotion- of rage, of tenderness- which allows the regret to remain with you. 

In Alan, we are introduced to what would appear on the surface to be the assumption of the piece, the role violent gaming imposes on life. In this, Alan takes on some of the more thought-provoking monologues, of our instincts and how they may be overcome.

Killology at the Sherman Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet

Photo by Mark Douet

Whilst the violent game experience may be the central premise- of the role this media may play on lives, there seemed more overpowering themes.Whilst the three actors rarely interact, the swirling of monologues allows us to piece the impact each has on the other. Underpinned by Simon Slater’s definitive soundtrack, underlining and emphasising the brutality of human behaviour.

Paul is the designer of the gaming experience, Killology. Richard Mylan takes on a role of a sleek, self-assured entrepreneur. Mylan’s mannerisms and tone so crisp and deliberate, confident and over-thought, reinforcing the man Paul wants to be.

Killology at the Sherman Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet

Photo by Mark Douet

We learn of the complexity of Paul’s relationship with his father. And at the crux there is a moment, between father and son, “the truth is there’s more light than dark”. Paul’s interpretation of being able to do anything differed to his father’s and through Killology it seems the worst of human choices are born out. Paul, never gaining the perceived respect of his father, takes the downward spiral in the need of a father-son bond.I fell a  little bit in love with Davey, the gob-smart youth taken on so beautifully by Sion Daniel Young. Davey may be defined as the child of a single-parent family, of poor education, of poverty, of a misspent childhood. Or he could be anyone’s child. 

Killology at the Sherman Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet

Photo by Mark Douet

Sion Daniel Young encaptures someone’s son. There is an ability to relax your jaw in such a way to talk, which only young people seem to perfect. Choices plough through Davey’s life, of his own and of others. The impact is breathtaking, at times with Maisie of beauty, and at others completely ferocious.  And then there is inner peace. The beauty of society. Those who give back.

Whilst Gary Owen may focus on the reality of our world, the broken society which surrounds us, it is reflected to us in a way that allows us to see moments of light. That there are choices. That we are surrounded by those who make a difference- best defined within our NHS.

And we are bought into this outcome. It may well be in the mind’s eye of a father hospitalised. But it offers the reality of human interventions, in making lives better.

But as is our reality we are brought back to the set. To the darkness, which rope to pull, which rope to hang us or others with. And there is the bike of a seven year-old girl, bright and new. 

Gary Owen’s Killology is a challenging reflection of our society, whilst refusing to shy from its worst reality, there is temptation offered, of being better.

Killology is at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, until 8th April. Tickets are available on the website or on 02920 646900.
It is at the Royal Court, London from 25th May-24th June. 

Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions contained are my own.

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