Writer: Zoe Mills
Director: Antony Eden
Reviewer: Andrea Allen
The right to die, it might not be your first port of call for laugh a minute topic, but with fabulously flippant lines like “I’m a prime candidate for a one-way trip to Switzerland”, Zoe Mills’ sharp two-hander is anything but traditional.
Performed by mother and daughter Brigit Forsyth and Zoe Mills. Killing Time tells the story of Hester, a terminally ill former professional cello player of reasonable notoriety who rarely strays beyond the confines of her jaded, beige-blanketed living room. Her encounters with the outside world are limited to Skype conversations with best friend George and expletive-laden, red wine fueled interactions with daytime chat shows and Coronation Street. Far from retreating into a shrunken, quivering shell, Hester proudly asserts that this is how she wants to see out her days, alternating between playing her cello and sticking on a DVD to ogle over Brad Pitt. However, when social worker Sara enters her life, initial hostility and defensiveness gives way to an unlikely companionship as Hester’s pride and bravado peels away just enough to finally let someone in.
Mills’ ability to comment on contemporary obsession with social media and simultaneously probe with the loaded issue of assisted suicide is an achievement in itself. Her ability to craft a play which is both wonderfully witty and deeply affecting is similarly commendable. In combining both, Killing Time is irrefutable proof that Mills was born to write, the fact that it’s her first full-length play is nothing short of incredible.
Killing Time crucially retains strikingly clear and relatable characters and narrative, allowing conventionally murky and difficult subjects to be approached with considered clarity and honesty. A simultaneously hilarious and heart-wrenching scene sees Hester discover that her obituary has been published online in advance of her death, Sara reads it to reveal that her sexual encounters with a composer are valued over and above her achievements as a cello player. The question of who and what we are and how others will remember us is never far from the fore, and Sara’s Instagram-snapchat-happy life seen through the lens of her camera phone is cleverly cross-referenced with Hester’s often indignant reflections at the end of a long life filled with both achievements and regrets.
Killing Time provides a fiery, and often crass and expletive-laden alternative to the sombre, wistfully philosophical or silently weeping characters that you’d usually encounter in plays dealing with similar subject matter. Such bold, uniquely subversive writing is a treat you only stumble upon once in a while, so if you have a chance to see this magnificently morbid show, do it, life’s too short to miss theatre like this.
Runs until Saturday 18 March, 2017 | Image: Contributed