Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Wednesday 19 June 2019

5 reasons to see Killer Joe in the West End this summer

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Share This Article:

This trailer-trash comedy is making its return to stage 25 years after its inception. Whilst you may have seen the 2011 movie version of Killer Joe, starring Matthew McConaughey, this production offers another celebrity movie star, Orlando Boom, in the same role.

From the acting to the sets to the costumes, here are the five things to see in Killer Joe.

1. Orlando Bloom

Whenever a celebrity movie star takes their talents to the stage, that production becomes infinitely more intriguing to watch. Whether it’s Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man, or Ian McKellen in King Lear, audiences will line up to see stars live in person that they can usually only see on screen. This is a no-brainer, and is possibly the reason most people are seeing Killer Joe right now.

Bloom, notable for his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings, plays the titular character in Tracy Letts’ dark comedy. In the play, Joe is hired by a man to carry out the murder of his mother in order to receive her life insurance money.

Bloom dazzles in his role as a no-nonsense, calculated hitman who intimidates and outsmarts everyone in the room. He commands the stage with charm and brute force, all while convincingly playing a Texas hitman.

Lastly, if you haven’t heard already, Bloom does appear completely undressed for a small portion of the play. I, for one, was reminded of this numerous times by my female classmates before attending. If you want to see a captivating movie star perform on stage, this is the show for you.

2. Adam Gillen

Who? I realize that you probably do not know who this person is. He is not a famous Hollywood celebrity and hasn’t been in blockbuster movies, but he is a fine actor. The 32-year-old has performed in theatre productions for over a decade, including a role in Wendy and Peter Pan and a role as Mozart in Amadeus.

In this play, Gillen portrays the aforementioned man (Chris) who pays to have his mother killed for her life insurance. The Mancunian actor is all too believable as a deadbeat brother and son desperate for money. He adds a level of sympathy to the character that a lesser actor might not have summoned from the audience.

Whilst he might not have the name recognition of an Orlando Bloom, Gillen matches his intensity and delivers an equally charismatic performance in the process.

3. The set

When you think of an extraordinary theatre set, you usually do not think of a tiny trailer located in a trailer park. After seeing Killer Joe, those two might be synonymous. The majority of the set is made up of two small bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a roof.

Grace Smart, the set and costume designer, gives attention to detail within the set by showcasing props such as an old television, chairs that are a bit too small, and thin walls through which everything can be heard.  

Whilst the entire play takes place within the area of a trailer and its immediate surroundings, it does not feel claustrophobic or cramped in any capacity. The set is arranged masterfully so that the audience is always familiar with the landscape and where characters are located in a given scene.

4. The lighting

This play sports a variety of lighting options, but it’s at its best when big, colourful, flashing lights appear on stage. While startling at first, these lights represent the shift in days, moods, and tonal shifts within the play.

Richard Howell, the lighting designer of Killer Joe, has had an illustrious career in lighting by designing 30 previous projects and is currently designing seven. Howell’s use of vibrant colours combines beautifully with Smart’s vision for the trailer park set.

5. The fight scene

The scene that truly sticks out is the fight scene, most notably its choreography. Without giving too much away, it occurs towards the conclusion of the play and pins the majority of the characters against each other, with each character containing different motives.

The most notable point to make about this scene is its choreography. Each physical move has a ripple effect across each character and musical note. The scene combines artful precision from the actors with eye-popping visual and musical cues as well. Sets are destroyed, gunfire goes off, and fried chicken is eaten: what more could you want?

Killer Joe is booking in the West End until 18th August, with tickets starting at £18. Book tickets here.

Tickets for Killer Joe are also available through TodayTix's Lottery scheme - find out more here.

© 2019 is a website of BigChoice Group Limited | 201 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1JA | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974