Malcolm Ebose gives a tender portrayal of young Daveykillology company

Gary Owen’s award-winning new play is named after the computer game at the centre of its focus. ‘Killology’ lets players kill virtual humans – awarding points for creativity and flair, the aim is to compete for the most gruesome virtual murder. Through the premise of this game, the play explores three different father-son relationships and the role ‘Killology’ plays in the lives of Alan, Davey, and Paul.

 Moments of intense drama alternate with moments of unexpected tenderness

Harry Redding as Alan launches into a captivating opening monologue so rhythmically poignant I have to force myself to take in the meaning of his words. It reminds me of great poetry readings, when it is impossible to say afterwards what the poem was actually about. The monologue format does not change throughout: the three actors take turns narrating the convoluted story from their perspective, with only sporadic bits of dialogue. This format works extremely well for this play and its gruesome subject matter since it does not rely on re-enactment on stage. As in a novel, the horrendous violence largely plays out in the form of mental images. We are forced to imagine in vivid detail, aided by real props on stage, what people do to each other in the virtual as well as the real world.

The acting in this production is among the best I’ve seen in Cambridge. Malcolm Ebose’s tender portrayal of young Davey is jarringly contrasted with Stanley Thomas’s eerily perfect portrayal of Paul, the inventor of ‘Killology’. These two parts dominate most of the play, and despite never actually interacting directly, they complement each other perfectly. What I was most pleasantly surprised about in this production was the balance between loud and quiet moments; moments of intense drama alternate with moments of unexpected tenderness. These frequent changes in tone and energy ensured that the show never dragged and at times even made me forget the stifling heat of the Corpus Playroom.


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This production would have worked even better as a Corpus main show. At over ninety minutes rather than the advertised seventy it is certainly long enough, and the added freedom and resources of a main show would have enabled the team to best showcase what the brilliant cast has to offer. The sporadic use of sound effects throughout worked very well but felt a bit tentative. The focus of Maya Yousif’s production is on the script and the skill of all three actors is certainly enough to carry this approach, but amplifying the use of special effects would not have done any harm to the expertly-delivered drama.

Killology is not the show to watch as a way to unwind after a long way of revision, but I sincerely hope everyone does so anyway. It is difficult to watch in the best way, delicately beautiful and horrendous at once. The two are entirely dependent on each other and fused together by three excellent actors in the first amateur production of an astonishing script.

Killology is on at the Corpus Playroom until 19 May

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