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KILLING GAME, Two Planks Theatre Company, at the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall. Now that Eugene Ionesco is finally dead, the truth can be told: he was a bore. Even the best plays in his much-vaunted theater of the absurd–The Bald Soprano, Exit the King, and The Rhinoceros–wear out their welcome long before they’re over. As for his worst plays–well, consider Killing Game.
Written in 1970, a good 10 to 15 years after his creative peak, the play is a compendium of his worst excesses: plotless, didactic, painfully predictable, and populated with only the thinnest stock characters–blustering politicians, unfeeling rich people, panic-prone asslike masses. It’s hard to see how even seasoned comic actors could transform this series of unconnected blackout scenes about a town ravaged by a mysterious plague into a completely satisfying evening of theater.
Still, I don’t believe Killing Game is nearly as godawful boring, repetitious, and dead on the stage as this company of painfully earnest, comically impaired thespians and their all-thumbs director, Nick Bowling, have made it. Thanks to their annoying, broad commedia style (a variation on the New Criminals’ less-than-subtle style), Ionesco’s play actually seems shallower, more blatant, and considerably less funny than it is. Two hours long, it feels like an eternity of failed absurdist comedy sketches, all making the same point over and over and over again: whatever you do, whatever you believe, the plague will get you.