23 February 2017

Killing Time at Park Theatre was slightly dark and very delightful

Killing Time had caught my eye partially because it starred Brigit Forsyth (who I last saw in Now This Is Not The End at the Arcola Theatre in 2015) and partially because it sounded an interesting show with a mix of live cello music, played by Bridgit, and modern technology. Despite this initial interest I was not able to find a free evening to see it until another event was cancelled and I was able to make a late booking.

I used to be able to walk to Park Theatre from work but moving to Teddington meant a journey from south-west to north-east London. Thankfully the main railway line to Vauxhall and then the Victoria Line to Finsbury Park made this journey simple and fairly quick. So much so that I was there by 6:45pm leaving me plenty of time for some quiche, coffee and then a beer before the 7:45pm show.

I took the beer with me into the queue around 7:15 only because it made as much sense to stand there and play with my phone as to sit somewhere else and do so. Despite this keenness some people got into the queue in front of me simply by redefining where the start of it was. Previously theatre staff had defined the start of the queue as where I was standing on the landing between the two floors but this time people were allowed to go down the corridor to the door to the studio. To be fair to the queue jumpers I did not look much like a queue standing there on my own, but it still irked me a little.

Luckily the people who jumped me in the queue did not sit where I wanted to sit and I was able to claim a seat in the middle of the front row in he central section. This time there was seating on two sides of a slightly raised circular stage.

Killing Time opened with Bridgit playing part of Elgar's Cello Concerto which everybody knows from the Jacqueline du Pré version. A good start.

The cellist, Hester, was an elderly woman at home alone dying of cancer and surrounded by crisp packet wrappers and empty bottles of wine as she lived her final days as she wanted to live them. Her only contact with the outside world was a friend who she spoke to on Skype (with her view projected on the back of the stage so that we could see it too) and a social worker who did he shopping and basic household duties.

The play was billed as a "hilarious and irreverent brand new comedy" so I was expecting something light with plenty of laughs. Killing Time was not like that. There was humour but calling it hilarious was something of a stretch. What was there was a dark edge that gave the story, and the characters, real substance. This was a play with depth and a heart which, for me, made it far better than the light relief that I was expecting. A play to recommend as well as to enjoy.

Adding to the emotion was knowing that the play was written by Bridget's daughter, Zoe Mills, who also played the social worker. The conversations that they had on stage about age and death were ones they could have had at home.

Killing Time ended on a heart-warming and satisfying high, despite what had just happened to Hester and her social worker. Their journey there had been amusing, slightly dark and very delightful.

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