By Abe Koogler
Directed by Jonathan Berry
At American Theater Co (ABT), Chicago
Awkward dialogue and lack of action mars slice-of-life drama
After sitting through 95 minutes of awkward dialogue from a group of characters who I couldn’t care less about, I asked myself, who is the audience for Kill Floor? The five characters, four main characters and one minor one, are each working poor blue collar folks or the children of the crude and under-educated. Unless something unique happens to them, why would I want to see a play about them? Sadly, Kill Floor looks at what it is to be low-life poor struggling for survival and fulfillment.
We meet Andy (Audrey Francis) a thirty-something woman recently released from prison after five years for selling drugs. She is trying to revive her life in a small Midwest town. She gets a job at a slaughterhouse from Rick (Eric Slater), an old high school friend. Rick only offers her a job on the “kill floor,” and she accepts. We see Rick and Andy have some awkward scenes as Rick fumbles trying to seduce her.
We meet B ( Sol Patches), the vegan 15 year old son of Andy. B is cold to Andy after she went to prison when he was ten. Andy tries too hard to win B back; he doesn’t want her in his life. We understand B’s feelings since he states that the folks he lives with are his parents now.
We also see how B and his friend Simon (Louis Rinaldi), a white rapper with an appetite for weed and oral sex, uses the nerdy, insecure B for both. These two teens have personal identity issues. Simon uses B, who is struggling with his feelings for Simon.
Meanwhile, Andy slowly gives in to Rick’s advances. We also see a scene with Andy contacting a woman, Sarah (Darci Nalepa), who she meet earlier at a supermarket, because Andy is in need of a female friend. Life is tough for Andy as B rejects her and Rick only wants sex and she is having trouble with killing cows in the kill floor.
Playwright Abe Koogler’s awkward, Mamet-speak dialogue is repetitious and bland, making the 95 minute drama drag on. Since I simply don’t relate to any of the characters, I wonder why anyone can find a play about uninteresting losers worthy? Audry Francis and Sol Patches gave nuanced performances, but they didn’t have much to work with in this underdeveloped play. While giving a voice to the working poor is fine, it is best to make the story relevant if you want an audience. This play is tedious and once it ends, I asked my self who would enjoy this story? I’m still trying to figure that out. Couldn’t ATC find a stronger play to mount?
At ATC, 1909 W. Bryon, Chicago, IL call773-409-4125, www.atcweb.org, tickets $38 – $28, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2pm, running time is 95 monutes without an intermission.