SO, I KILLED A FEW PEOPLE…, Annoyance Theatre. David Summers is remounting his one-man show So, I Killed a Few People… to get it up to speed for the New York International Fringe Festival next month. He needn’t have worried: on opening night he was already at full throttle as serial killer Archie Nunn, telling his life story to a prison audience just six days shy of his scheduled execution. Summers’s sly, harrowing performance achieves its power through unrelenting understatement: aided by cowriter Gary Ruderman’s economical direction, Summers paints a creepy picture of a man whose only frames of reference are Disney features and television sitcoms. Aware that his limited outlook has warped his psyche, Nunn argues that Disney has caused more serial murders than almost any other factor–Disney convinces us that “if you’re ugly, crippled, or a freak you’re going to end up happy,” and when the ugly, crippled freaks among us discover the magnitude of that lie, they tend to turn homicidal.

While Summers’s performance has great depth, the character is somewhat spotty: Nunn skips from topic to topic, which robs him of a coherent point of view. And the script’s social criticism is focused on rather easy targets: media fascination with tragedy and death, TV’s choke hold on the popular imagination, the manipulations of Madison Avenue. Only the show’s mesmerizing final 20 minutes–when Summers leads us step-by-step through his execution day–realize the piece’s full potential.

–Justin Hayford