EFR - Reviews of Killing Time

Killing Time

Fri 3rd – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Bridget Wynne Willson

at 02:16 on 4th Aug 2012

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Five Rounds Rapid’s production of ‘Killing Time’ chronicles two boys’ shared final hour of human existence before an Armageddon. The tale is not for the easily depressed; yet, engineered by writer and director Andrew Edwards, it is packed with light-hearted and comical moments largely arising from the absurdity of facing the impending death of all mankind. In other words, this is one of the best ways to ‘kill time’ at this year’s Fringe Festival, as Edward’s creation is skilfully written and artfully executed.

The stark set, made up of only a concrete platform and collection of light-bulbs, which switch off one-by-one as we draw ever nearer to the end of the world, is enhanced by subtle and realistic sound effects such as the quiet birdsong, serving once more to indicate the passing of time.

Both Callum O’Dwyer and Joe McArdle, in the roles of the two boys in question, deliver touching and believable performances made possible through the power of Edwards’ words. McArdle’s dry sense of humour and pessimistic outlook is tempered by O’Dwyer’s portrait of a boy more in touch with his emotions and capable of offering support to those around him. The contrast between these two personality types is the play’s driving force. Edwards and his cast depict thoroughly different methods of coping with certain obliteration: cynical analysis, seemingly buoyant optimism and overwhelming depression, as shown by Amy Plunder’s suicidal Megan. The interplay and chemistry between McArdle and O’Dwyer create interest where an absence of action may deter some viewers. The awkward poignancy found in discussion about topics such as sex, death, family and penises is very powerful as both seek comfort in one another.

Ultimately Edwards’ central idea facilitates both ‘philosophical debate’ and ‘chit-chat’ that are totally honest and revealing. Certain death breaks down all barriers and the result is a heart-warming and thought-provoking production provided by one of the Fringe’s most impressive university theatre companies.

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Yara Rodrigues Fowler

at 07:18 on 4th Aug 2012

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‘Killing Time’ is a fantastic way to kill your time. Creative, subtle and moving - it is an impressive piece of original writing by Andrew Edwards, performed by the Edinburgh University Theatre Company. Walking away from the theatre, the play lingers - so much so that I felt compelled to return to the venue and congratulate whoever I could find. In line with its claim of being ‘light’, the play is indirectly profound - it engages rather than bombards you, leaving you thinking in its wake.

The hour-long performance progresses in real-time with the countdown to the end of the world, during which time O’Dwyer and McArdle display a wide and plausible range of emotions, from awkwardness and anger, affection and tentative violence. ‘Killing Time’ includes many charming moments of understated comedy; one of its first lines is “Did I tell you about my penis?”, quickly translating the slightly grandiose premise of an impending apocalypse into a watchable everyday dialogue. Edwards’ choices as a writer are well-made: he chooses to inform the audience through character rather than background fact, to the extent that his two protagonists remain nameless, and little backstory is explicitly detailed. Their dynamic however does not feel abstract, but rather is construed through their spoken and unspoken on-stage relationship.

The set is minimal as are the costumes, highlighting the precision of the direction (also Edwards, with Will Naameh) and acting, for example O’Dwyer’s very memorable and slightly heart-breaking almost-crying expression, and McArdle’s careful reactions to the dialogue. The third character, Amy Plender - on stage for under half of the production - is, if less naturally and accessibly performed, ultimately useful to the development of O’Dwyer and McArdle’s characters, provoking some of their most touching dialogue.

Perhaps my favourite part of the show was McArdles’s sweet, candid description of an orgasm, following O’Dwyer’s admission that he has never one: “It’s nice. I like it”. This is typical of the gentle homoeroticism ever-present throughout the production and the best I’ve seen it portrayed in student theatre. It is representative of the unfinished naivety that touches upon the quiet tragedy of ‘Killing Time’ as a whole; where the unsaid suggests the undone.

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