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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

dog & pony dc A Killing Game

By • Dec 13th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
A Killing Game
dog & pony dc
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Washington DC
Through December 22nd
90 minutes without intermission
$17, varies at the door
Reviewed December 12th, 2012

Imagine the Warsaw Ghetto uprising reenacted by hyper active fifth graders demanding audience participation and one has approximated the results of what is actually a very thoughtful group of theatre professionals engaging in every generation’s iconoclastic effort to be so different as to become a new voice of a new generation and the result is dog & pony dc’s A Killing Game. Nice try, but no cigar. Not since Ernie Kovacs anyway and he died trying.

The Beatles attempted this same concept at the height of their influence and the result is still hidden in the attic like a crazy grandma who only gets taken out for her friends’ funerals. If the Beatles couldn’t pull this off then maybe the concept needs a rest…sort of like Latin; one sounds pithy speaking of it but wouldn’t dare try to take it for a spin.

Not that I didn’t have a good time at A Killing Game …..I did, it was fun…..but if arguing the point about whether the show is theatre or not is the point, then dog & pony dc succeeded. I appreciate the concept of “audience integration” if the intent is to wake up the snoozers. The problem is managing to polish a presentation that the audience has paid to see when the audience itself is not polished and is not in on the joke until it’s too late…sort of like self crucifixion….you can never get that last nail in. In fact, the concept in practice is so squirrelly the press gets a two page explanation of the effort rationalizing the endeavor; the rest of the audience goes out into the cold. Tossing Ionesco into a mix with Orson Welles and card games is name dropping, without cerebration; and without such content inherent in the text. Welles was a genius only because he kept telling everyone that he was. He was his own self-esteem movement. So too, for that matter, was Ionesco.

Upon arriving and calling for tickets we were instructed to leave our smart phones turned on and to download some app complimentary to Twitter so that we can tweet the action in real-time. Downloading the app led to an instruction to download another protocol and this completely f*cked up my phone and I spent the last minutes before the show opened uninstalling whatever sh*t it was that I shouldn’t have installed in the first place. Instruction: run from any play that advises you to keep your phone turned on.

It seems that everyone in our sunny, sunny town is dying of some horrid disease that looks like a woman in shades and red lipstick. She sidles around silently trying to look sultry and threatening while we are all dying of this disease. She is wearing a too tight dress which makes her look like she is concealing a colostomy bag underneath the bodice. Ultimately, the action becomes a mid 20th century game show that is so absurd as to be indescribable. The only comment for this show is WTF? Everyone is handed an expensively produced card packet before the show and the contents of this packet direct one’s participation. Certain audience members become characters and participate onstage. The rest of us have the opportunity to offer commentary answered by the UPS man (Sean Paul Ellis), a courageous actor waiting to answer to the unknown in front of all of us.

The production itself is very courageous and daring and the talent and skills of the cast are on display at every moment. The sauce, however, has too many cooks and no one to edit and keep control over the concept. If the show morphs into something else for every performance, depending on how the audience participates, then it is not a show. It is an experience, a separate concept whose motivation is to get people to pay for something they can have at home for free or at less cost. If the audience is put to work, then why is it paying to see the show? It should, in fact, be paid for its time and labor and not being charged for the favor of indulging some others’ vainglorious affectations. This company’s collective parents have so been telling these darlings how special they are; and they all believed it. This show is the result of the self-esteem movement in child development in overdrive.

The disappointment is that each of the cast is a supremely talented performer and those skills are patently obvious and wasted in every second of the show. The show is a masterpiece of properties management and the props are actually the stars of this show. The blocking and movement are superb and the costuming clever. In the end, though, the whole concept is an interminable conceit; the next generation trying to finesse its parents by making the parents’ same mistakes. Plus ca change, c’est la meme chose.

Though the tickets to A Killing Game are $17.00 online; at door purchase might be a lottery of prices ranging from $5.00 to $40.00. If you can get in for $5.00, do that. Any more and the show should be paying you.

Cast

  • Blue: Jon Reynolds
  • Pink: Yasmin Tuazon
  • Orange: J. Argyl Plath
  • Purple: Jessica Lefkow
  • Green: Genna Davidson
  • Brown: Sean Paul Ellis

Production Staff

  • Director: Colin K. Bills
  • Developed & Scripted by: Colin K. Bills, Rachel Grossman, Lorraine Resegger-Slone, J. Argyl Plath, Jon Reynolds, Rebecca Sheir, Gwydion Duilebhan
  • Production Design: Colin K. Bills, Ivania Stack
  • Sound Design: Christopher Baine
  • Stage Manager: Melanie Harker
  • Graphic Artist: Kate Ahern Loveric

Disclaimer: dog & pony dc provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is a theatrical producer. She worked in radio production and direction for many years and gravitated to theatre when family members became involved with the stage.

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