Kill Me Now produced by Kaliyuga Arts
They told the truth. "Kill Me Now," written by the edgy Canadian playwright Brad Fraser, is one of the most compelling plays I've seen this summer and this has been a season for challenging work.
Because I saw the play at its final performance, I was frustrated because I couldn't write about it for my newspapers (The Troy Record and The Saratogian. I wanted to send the company the audience it deserved. However, I quickly realized not having to write about the play was a mixed blessing.
I told everyone I knew about the experience but it seemed impossible to describe the work so it would seem an enjoyable experience - even to my devoted theatre-going friends. They looked at me in horror when I described the pathetic lives of the characters. They were wrong but I lacked the eloquence to state the beauty of the show.
This is one of the reasons I am so in awe of the company. To do a work like this is to respect there is an audience for tough material. This production was in Hudson, NY, which is not the largest population market in the area and though the community has a strong arts culture it is not really noted for its edgy life-style. Happily the Sunday afternoon show had a sizeable and appreciative audience.
"Kill Me Now" is a story about people we avoid knowing in real life because their lives are too painful.
It concerns a man who is raising his 19 year old disabled son, Joey, alone because his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash. His only personal time is one night a week when his 29 year old sister watches Joey. Twyla has her own personal issues with relationships. On Tuesdays Jake meets his girlfriend Robyn, who is a married woman.
Joey's best friend is Rowdy, a young man who lives in a group home because of slight brain damage. Rowdy cannot self-censor and has a strong sex drive. Eventually he and the sister Twyla form a friends-with-benefits relationship.
It sounds complicated and maybe even a little naughty - but essentially "Kill Me Now" is a tender, affecting love story about people who form unconventional relationships that give them the strength to endure.
As things get worse with the extended family, some very tough decisions have to be made and it is the love they have for each other that makes what could be intolerable to watch, become a moving and beautiful experience.
The performances were perfect. Seven Paterson finds the vulnerability of the father who suddenly finds himself helpless to take care of his son. JD Scalzo was both flip and loyal and even charming as Rowdy. Molly Parker-Myers as the girlfriend Robyn was pragmatic but loving, while Kay Capasso as the sister was strong to all while hiding her own emotional frailties.
However, the performance of Samuel Hoeksema as the disabled Joey was no less than brilliant. Though Joey is speech impaired the actor delivered his slurred lines with a certain clarity. More important Hoeksema brought Joey on a emotional journey that was heartbreaking, wise and wonderful to watch.
Work this good does not happen in a vacuum and director John Sowle's invisible hand had to shape this memorable theatrical experience.
A week ago I did not know anything about Kaliyuga Arts. Now I wouldn't miss one of their productions.