Kill Me Now is tragicomic and full of complex themes

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Kill Me Now | Touchstone Theatre | Firehall Arts Centre | October 13 – 27, 2018

What do you do when you have a special needs son to take care of, but end up needing care yourself? Brad Fraser’s darkly funny play is tragic and comic all at once. In moments of despair, a witty line suddenly breaks the tension and you can’t help but laugh.

After his wife and mother pass away, Jake (Bob Frazer) is left to care for his teenage son Joey (Adam Grant Warren), who has a severe disability, by himself. Thankfully, his sister, Twyla (Luisa Jojic), helps out and they manage to get by. Jake escapes to Robyn’s (Corina Akeson) place once a week for some intimacy and a break from responsibility (he pretends he is going to play hockey). But when Jake develops a debilitating spinal condition, he needs all the help he can get. Joey’s friend Rowdy (Braiden Houle) moves in to help the family out and things grow increasingly tense.

At its core this story is about the lengths we will go for the ones we love. The responsibility of caring for both her brother and nephew is not something Twyla could have predicted, and when Robyn began her tryst with Jake, she never imagined she would end up feeling obligated to be there for him and Joey. These characters may not have exciting romantic prospects or glamourous lives, but they have each other.

The entire cast is perfectly invested in their characters – Frazer is spectacular as he descends into an immobile, drug-induced haze; Warren portrays the angst and fear of losing the one person he could always count on; Akeson and Jojic are wonderfully flustered and fumbling through their new realities, and Houle provides laugh-out-loud comic relief with his naïveté, lack of a filter, and eagerness to please. I felt for them all as they drew us into their lives with its unimaginable grief and unexpected levity.

Tightly written and full of complex themes, Kill Me Now is a testament to the power of human relationships to get us through the best and worst times. In the opening scene, Jake baths Joey and the two are joking and laughing. In the final scene, Jake is in the bathtub and there is no laughter. Joey has grown up quickly and become a caregiver to his ailing father. The moment is tender, gripping, and tragic, but full of love.

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