Part of the MIFTAS season by the University of Manchester Drama Society, this play doesn’t quiet live up to expectations
Advertised as a “dark, psychological, non-linear epic”, Killing Curtis Drake was, to be frank, underwhelming. With a run time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, the show was indeed physically and emotionally exhausting, however for the wrong reasons.
The Wonder Inn is a fabulous venue, and something about the inconvenience of the place gives it an exclusive feel, but for this production everything fell on the side of overkill. The bare bones set, the fold up chairs and lighting crew sat in the corner came across as unprofessional rather than intimate, and the frequency of long, relatively impassioned monologues bemoaning the human psyche was simply frustrating. What was an original and curious plot-line was swamped by waves of conceited pseudo-intelligent text, which is a terrible shame considering the potential of the plot.
That being said, Catherine Snow does deserve credit for her consistent and clinical portrayal of Doctor Knight. In a cast of unfortunately stereotyped characters and stereotypical performances, Snow stands out as giving depth to the character and handling the reveal of a somewhat weak plot so well that it does not induce a groan. Whether it is writing or performance is unclear, but sadly George John is very one-dimensional as our protagonist Sam, although his line delivery is slightly more consistent than other performers. One very well written — or just performed — character is Philip, portrayed by Lucio Gray. A sweet-natured, honest man, he aids our protagonist Sam despite the fact that he bullied him at school. The doe-eyed Gray is beautifully innocent, delivers lines with ease and is all-round a wonderfully sympathetic character. Unfortunately, the dark, brooding antagonist he is faced with, Joseph, played by Sid Sinha, induces laughter as opposed to fear, and the clunky physical violence somewhat spoils Philip’s demise.
Although they were rather obvious, the lighting and music deserves praise for elevating a bland script with a smooth run and technically excellent lighting design. The original music, also by Lucio Gray, adds to the show immensely, and is at times the saving grace.
Overall, this should have been an excellent show that was let down by some rather key moments of weakness through acting and writing. Whilst it is of course a student show, and so standards must differ, the elements which one could forgive for being lower in a student production are excellently executed, namely the lighting and music. Sadly, this seemed more like an A-Level student performance than a university one.