It’s both theatrical and true, that some families seem to have all the bad luck. Jake played by Greg Weiss has lost his wife, abandoned his writing career and reduced his love life to Tuesday nights in order to be a full time carer for his disabled teenage son Joey. And that’s before his life falls apart…

The premiere of Brad Fraser’s new play ‘Kill Me Now’ at the Park Theatre does not flinch from the pain of living with severe physical disabilities and caring for those we love. The familiar refrain ‘It’s not fair’ loses the whine and takes on a chilling truth in this ground-breaking production. More dark than comedy – it is shared humanity that holds this motley crew of struggling beings together.

Fraser asks a lot of familiar questions about life, death and desire and some less familiar – should we assist our desperate father to die if he is already dying inside, is it OK to drink whisky anytime of day when in extreme pain, is it a kindness to 'jerk off' your son if he’s tortured by the fact he cant do it himself?

Running at 1hr 50 minutes with no interval, the theatre gradually shrinks into a hot dark space where the unbearable becomes the norm and inappropriate behaviour becomes essential relief. For the audience as well as the characters as humour becomes a life-line in the ever deepening waters of despair.

Greg Wise as Jake and Oliver Gomm as Joey give harrowing, physical performances while Rowdy convincingly realised by Jack McMullen offers far more than light relief with his open heart and irresistible ebullience – ‘I’m mildy retarded and well hung – how can you resist?’ Female roles Robyn and Twyla played by Anna Wison-Jones and Charlotte Harwood did not seem quite as well realised and their trajectories not entirely convincing but refreshingly, every single character was warm and likeable.

In such an intimate space the visceral experience of the exhausted, twisted bodies of the father and son dominate the drama and dictate the action just as they overwhelmed the lives of those around them. It is in this sense brilliantly theatrical, and utterly engaging. Contemporary it may be but there is more than a whiff of Beckett about the way the characters are trapped in their bodies, totally dependent on each other and at times very funny.

Despite the powerful physicality, the drama is at its most touching when the bodies seem to disappear and you see for a moment that it is a father son story that has been told many times before. Joey is reaching adulthood and before long he will take his fathers place in the world. I can only applaud Fraser, the cast and the whole creative team for bringing this hard-hitting drama to life.

By Brad Fraser

19 February – 29 March

Cast: Oliver Gomm (Joey), Charlotte Harwood (Twyla), Jack McMullen (Rowdy), Anna Wilson-Jones (Robyn), Greg Wise (Jake).

Director: Braham Murray; Designer: Juliet Shillingford; Lighting Designer: Chris Davey
Sound Designer: Mike Walker; Composer: Tayo Akinbode