The Killing of Michael X

 

A new Film by Celia Wallacejackalope theatre

Written by Cory Hinkle

Directed by Kaiser Ahmed

produced by Jackalope Theatre Company

At the Broadway Armory, Chicago

Film meets the live stage in parody of film noir and reality TV

Kudos to Jackalope Theatre Company for landing a potentially terrific space in the Chicago Park District’s Broadway Armory formerly home to the Illinois National Guard. Once they get all the parts together, they’ll have a fine space for theatre in a great location just off the Thorndale Redline and Broadway in Roger’s Park. Their initial offering at their new digs is a mixed bag combining live stage and film to create a hybrid piece that mostly works.

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This ambitious  adventure, The Killing of Michael X, now in a world premiere, utilizes nice film work by Alex Hand with video projections by Neil Pandya with technical direction by Andrew Swanson and stage direction by Kaiser Ahmed. These artists did their best to breath life into Cory Hinkle’s awful script. The cliche ridden dialogue together with the drastic tone shifts got me wondering was this hybrid a parody or what? With so much corny dialogue and the over-the-top acting, especially by Joanne Dubach, certainly The Killing of Michael X isn’t a serious piece. To me, it came off as a sardonic parody of violent film and TV coverage of teenage killing sprees. To believe that a moody teen would produce a film simply because she likes the form is a stretch especially since she doesn’t own a camera!

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This quasi-mystery contains a story that strains the credulity with its manic non-linear action that contains too much screaming (that reverbs in the Armory’s bare walls).  Celia (Joanne Dubach) and Randy (Andrew Goetten) must realize that they don’t need to scream as much to makes their point. The story mixes teenage revenge against Big Pharma, death in a family with a large bone found in a family backyard that produces a weird detective investigating. The story wanders on and the plots get convoluted yet there is something intriguing about this work. maybe its the sheer energy, the combination of the smooth transitions from film/video to live stage action that hooked me.

There is humor, satire and parody at work here as this wildly creative hybrid tackles  obsession with violence  and dysfunctional families struggling to deal with the loss of a child and the angst of a sibling. There are road trips, camp outs, gun play and murder mixed in with hyper radio and TV reporting. The whole affair contains some fine work, especially from Andrew Goetten, Kristin Collins and Jared Fernley.

The work would play more coherently with a stronger, more focused script. But the creatives at Jackalope Theatre enhanced an inferior script with imaginative use of film/video and live staging to create a wacky piece that grips us. With some cuts and toning down the screaming, The Killing of Michael X would be improved. As it plays now it is worth a look. We can expect more ambitious work from the talented creatives at Jackalope Theatre. Their new space at the Broadway Armory sure has potential.

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 20, 2014

For more info checkout the Killing of Michael X page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway, Chicago, www.jackalopetheatre.org, tickets $20, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, Special Industry Performance on Monday, march 31 at 7:30 pm, running time is 95 minutes without an intermission, through April 13, 2014