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September 16, 2013
Review: killers

251682-250“killers", playing now at the Paradise Factory as part of its month-long (not just) 3 New Plays event, is a concise, cerebral work that explores the connections between interpersonal relationships and furtive inner states.  The play tells two parallel stories -- one about Miranda, a woman who wants to kill, and the other about a nameless character with an intense desire to die. Despite the decidedly morbid subject matter, the play manages to scare up some laughs, thanks to a clever script by Kevin Armento ("Bets & Blue Notes"), as well as skillful acting and direction.

The theater at the Paradise Factory is quite small, but the two seemingly disparate stories share the stage agreeably, displaying solid direction by Stefanie Abel Horowitz. The ongoing plots literally share the set, and the lights dim on each side of the stage in turn, switching the audience's attention rapidly without breaking rhythm, forcing us to look for some common meaning.

On one side of the stage is Miranda, who has been possessed by a strong, inexplicable, Dexter-ish desire to kill ever since she was a small child. Upon meeting Bobby and Julia (“What are you, some kind of asshole?” she greets Julia for the first time), she learns to channel her violent imagination creatively.  Rania Salem Manganaro is effusive as Miranda, temperamental and prone to bouts of shouting and wrestling. "killers", though, does not burrow into Miranda's psychology, as the show "Dexter" does with its titular character, and her motivations for her violent yearnings remain somewhat unclear. For all her talk of wanting to kill someone, she never comes close to taking action, making us wonder what it is she really wants.

On the opposite side of the stage is a story completely different in tone. A subdued and nameless character, Miranda’s counterpart is preoccupied with thoughts of dying: “Why can't there be someone who wants to kill me just as badly as I want to be killed?” she asks.  Katy Wright-Meadgets is noteworthy as the timid Nameless, using nervous body language and a shaky (though methodical) voice to convey her own deadly yearnings. Like Miranda, Nameless is fickle, susceptible to the effects of  relationships on her view of own life. The day after a good date, back at her mundane office job, she says, "I am useless to my job today. I am worn. I am a mess, and I marvel at how truly. Lush. It. Feels." With poetic dialogue like this, Nameless's story is the more intriguing of the two, despite its more restrained tenor.

All this talk of killing and dying generates momentum that propels the plot to a sudden and provocative conclusion. “killers” is imaginative and intricate, succinctly packing thought-provoking questions about friendship, love, gender, and growing up, into its short 65 minutes.

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Written by: Nina Lukina
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