If you believe Andrew Bolt, Kill the PM will be enjoyed only by the ‘closet totalitarian – and the barbarian’. It is a show for a lefty audience that will be au fait with criticism of the Coalition Government, but it escapes Bolt’s uninformed aspersions by avoiding preachy dialogue and satirising the political persuasion of those most likely to see it.
Set where it is staged, in the Old 505 Theatre, you’ll climb flights of tiny, graffiti-covered stairs in an unassuming building called Hibernian House just a block from Central. It’s the kind of building where it looks like anything goes, which is important to the play. This location both limits the people likely to see the performance, and gives you a sense of the underground nature of the conspiracy you’re there to witness.
The play is tightly written and despite the short timeframe, has two distinct halves. In the first, four friends pace madcap around the stage with wildly oscillating opinions about whether to kill the PM. Their views turn on a dime. That creates a tense, but not entirely plausible, political drama. The second takes a turn for the surreal as the play explores how choices taken and not taken would pan out. There’s an overuse of strobe lighting and smoke that makes the stage direction feel overwrought. On the upside, it certainly leaves you with a numbed sense of reality that gives the surreal scenes occurring on stage more force.
Written by Fregmonto Stokes and directed by James Dalton, the play apparently follows Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Demons. Reading a Wikipedia summary of the novel, that seems true. You certainly don’t need to read its 776 pages to enjoy Kill the PM. The cast is generally good, if a bit slow to get going. Lily Newbury-Freeman’s Naomi is great. For a play that has sixty minutes and an ambitious project, Kill the PM comes off as intelligent and funny, if not amazing. Indulge your inner totalitarian/barbarian. Go see it.
Time: 8–26 October 2014, 8pm most days.
Venue: Old 505 Theatre, Suite 505, 342 Elizabeth St Surry Hills.
Tickets: $18 for a concession, buy tickets online or at the door.