The Killer needs a little less conversation and a little more action, please | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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The Killer needs a little less conversation and a little more action, please

Trap Door's production of Ionesco's absurdist farce works best when no one is talking.


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Eugène Ionesco's loud, absurdist farce about an everyman desperately attempting to escape his gray existence while tracking a mysterious killer gets a spirited, fully committed treatment at Trap Door. Bérenger (a sweaty, desperate Dennis Bisto) blunders upon a beautiful neighborhood he's never seen before. The area is overseen by a sinister, leering architect (Michael Mejia), who gives Bérenger a tour but keeps disappearing to put out bureaucratic fires. All is not as rosy as it seems here, but Bérenger is convinced that a move to this district will cure all that ails him.

What follows is a series of nonsensical fever-pitch vignettes in which Bérenger, by turns hysterical and confused, tries to unmask the identity of a killer stalking the city while clinging to the long-shot hope that his own prospects will somehow improve in the process.

The automaton-like behatted and trench-coated types performing an endless pantomime throughout the play communicate Ionesco's critique of modern life much more effectively than the lengthy philosophical harangues that punctuate it. As with almost every Trap Door production I've ever been to, this one is chock-full of expressive moments and striking staging, but after a time, Ionesco's words start sounding like nails on a chalkboard. I kept waiting for the quiet moments where Bérenger and the rest of the ghoulish citizens of this nameless city go through the motions of their sad lives. The cry in these movements hits a lot closer than a thousand shouted syllables. Mike Steele directed.   v

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