Newport Playgoer David Constant has gone from playing clean-cut British hero Richard Hannay in ‘The 39 Steps’ to the role of a brutal hitman in ‘Killer Joe’.
In the play, set in Texas, David is a cop who moonlights as a contract killer.
He is hired by the sleazy “trailer trash” Smith family to murder their alcoholic mother whose life insurance money is needed to pay off the son’s debts.
However, once he steps into their trailer, their simple plan spirals out of control.
What follows is a cycle of TV watching, beer drinking, door slamming, violence, betrayal, degradation, possible incest – and a twist in the tale.
Award-winning ‘Killer Joe’ was the first stage play by Tracy Letts and it is a blackly comic, ferociously violent and blatantly sexual assault on the senses.
The Smiths are a family whose moral compass has lost its magnet. Letts paints this bunch of trailer-park trash as less than human. He encourages us to laugh at their blind materialism, their uncleanliness and their complete lack of loyalty, family sense, and civic responsibility.
“You’re in the trailer with us,” says David. “Our director Nathan Hodge is trying to erase the idea that you’re watching a play – we want the audience to be a fly on the wall, watching this mayhem happen.”
Nearly two decades after the original production in 1993, the play has had successful runs at the Edinburgh Festival, the West End and Off Broadway. ‘Killer Joe’ has been made into a film by William Friedkin, who earlier turned Letts’ second hit play ‘Bug’ into a movie as well.
This is the latest controversial production at the Dolman Studio Theatre which recently hosted a sell-out production of Irving Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’.
There is a good reason the play warns about gun shots, profanity, drug use and full-frontal nudity of both the male and female variety.
If you haven’t a strong stomach for such things – and the worst that human beings can do to one another – stay away. But that would be a shame, because in ‘Killer Joe’, director Nathan Hodge has shaped a thrilling piece of theatre.
‘Killer Joe’ is at the Dolman Studio Theatre from 4 – 8 November. Tickets are available on the door.