A Killing Game was weird, stirring, uncomfortable, frightening, funny, illogical, confusing, upsetting, light-hearted and gay – and collectively all so vaguely familiar. The clownish theatrical experiment (inspired by Eugène Ionesco’s Jeux de Massacre (or Killing Game), Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds’ 1938 radio broadcast, and Fluxx (the card game with constantly changing rules) - is about a town faced with a deadly epidemic that repeatedly strikes the town and it’s citizenry lifeless – repeatedly in an assortment of situations. And as a member of the audience, I am to play an integral part in each scenario. Beforehand, I should – am encouraged to – familiarize myself with the premise through various social media outlets and they encourage the audience to bring a smart device – iPhone, Android, iPad, or tablet – just as one would in the event of a real emergency, or in any event, for that matter.
The production design by Colin K. Bills and Ivania Stack simply consisted of the necessary props. It silently begged the question: if we’re all going to die and we know it, what real difference do the furnishings make anyway? Christopher Baine did a damn good job making sure that no words went unheard. Each cast member was dressed almost entirely in a specific color. And what does that physical rainbow of colors represent? I looked: not the colors of the rainbow. No allegory there.
Collin Bills did a great job directing this circus. Jon Reynolds (Blue), Yasmin Tuazon (Pink), J. Argyl Plath (Orange), Jessica Lefkow (Purple), Denna Davidson (Green), and Sean Paul Ellis’ (Brown) play-acted their medley of characters and it fit like a red nose on a clown in this campy production. And then there’s Rebecca Sheir (Black) who ominously never says a word throughout and is never addressed. Spooky.
Puzzled? Yeah, me too. It was pure pandemonium – organized. But I couldn’t help but feel a familiarity with it. To me, it represented the gross cartoon our culture has morphed into and why I have such a pessimistic view of our societies collective consciousness. It was unrealistic, ridiculous, somewhat predictable, and insincere. No! I take that back – it was sincere. Of course my interpretation is my interpretation and you are free to yours. I would suggest, if nothing else, listening to the podcast first. Crazy stuff there. Walking myself to the metro station afterwards, I found myself feeling uncertain as to how I was going to find the the words, the sentences, the structure to relay just how stupidly smart this production was.
Upon reflection, to me it felt like looking in the mirror at a funhouse and finding your guise is as distorted and funny looking as everyone else’s. Ah-ha! That’s why it all felt so vaguely familiar!
Running Time: Approximately one hour and thirty minutes, with no intermission.
A Killing Game plays through December 22, 2012 at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop – 545 7th Street SE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, buy them at the door, or purchase them online.