Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Applause! Applause! Review of Kill Sister, Kill! at Theatre 80 by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Kill Sister, Kill! at Theatre 80 was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Kill Sister, Kill
A Dark New Musical Comedy
Original Concept & Book by Drac & Jamieson Child
Story by Drac Child, Jamieson Child & Emily Dix
Original Score & Musical Direction by Michael Zahorak
Lyrics by David Blackshell
Costume Design by Judith Ann Clancy
Directed by Jamieson Child
Theatre 80
80 St. Mark's Place
New York, New York 10003
Reviewed 8/28/15 

Kill Sister, Kill! began five years ago as a crazy experimental piece hatched in the minds of Drac & Jamieson Child, two Canadian brothers. It was their intention to create, on stage, a bloody, gore-drenched ode to the exploitation films of the late 1970s and 1980s. Their goal was to change how musical theater is seen and experienced. The musical was entered in the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2013, and this year was accepted as an entry in the 19th Annual New York International Fringe Festival. The story revolves around Lily, a pious nun, doing God's work on the streets of New York City in the days when murder, robbery, and rape were commonplace, However, in this case, after her pastor commits suicide, her sister is raped and murdered, and she has her throat cut, is left for dead, and robbed of her voice, Lily decides to become an avenging angel and to take action against "the ungodly cowards who are an infection in need of spiritual intervention." Instead of killing herself over the grief of losing Kitty, her sister from Las Vegas who was about to get married, Lily decides "to clean up the streets and be heaven's police."

The dark musical comedy is a sensational assault on your senses. Violence, murder, rape, harsh language, and drug and alcohol abuse are all packaged together in one very interesting and entertaining new genre of musical theater. The writers don't ease you in either. The first number is "Fuck This City" and I really didn't know what to think of the production during the first 20 minutes of the show. I liked the score and the lyrics but since I received no press packet, no CD, and no history of the show, I had no idea what to expect. However, by the end of this little slice of hell, I was in love with the entire cast as well as with the book that added just enough humor to balance the intense violence we were witnessing on stage. Kill Sister, Kill! is a complete success. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but I thought it was an amazing accomplishment. Drac & Jamieson Child took a chance writing a novel piece of musical theater and succeeded in spades.

One of the running gags was that Dagger, an excessively violent, drug-abusing, heterosexual thug, and his relatively innocent, brother Ronnie, hung out in a leather bar named Butthole. Dagger, who longed to see Grease again, wore leather and used to dress up in his mother's clothing, seemed oblivious to the fact this was a gay bar. He would hit on Teresa, the lesbian bartender, and once stomped a guy's head in for sucking his dick on the other side of a glory hole (Dagger said, "I've been sticking my dick into that hole for years. I didn't know there was a queer at the other end sucking it up."). Ronnie, his brother, (who looked like "a rebel without a clue") kept asking where all the chicks were? Finally, when Lily (not dressed as a nun) and Kitty entered the bar, Dagger said, "finally some fillies who aren't packing pepperoni between their legs." Dagger also explained away the men french kissing each other as "the way they pass drugs." The other running gag involved Kitty, a Las Vegas performer who knew everyone and was finally going to settle down and get married. She came to New York to spend one last night with her sister Lily, the nun. Lily took off her habit to keep an eye on Kitty (because this being the Big Apple, she wanted to "bite off more than she could chew"). She is set to marry a man who has a glass eye and "doesn't keep me a secret from his wife." Lily questions why she would marry a trailer-dweller when she could be "strolling down the red carpet with Liberace." 

Lily and Kitty stop at Butthole for a drink but Teresa, the bartender, warns them the bar is more of a "spring roll" and "chicken roll" sort of place, so after Dagger gets into a fight with Teresa, Kitty decides she and Lily need to leave now or they'll regret it. Ronnie, who lives under "the thumb of his brother Dagger and his world of scum," catch up with Lily and Kitty later in the evening on the street, but this time both sisters are drunk. They fail to heed Ronnie's warning to flee. Dagger demands that Kitty "come over and service my put out the fire between my thighs." He rapes and robs her of her engagement ring while demanding that Ronnie force her sister to watch the whole ordeal. Kitty is now dead and Dagger demands that Ronnie slice Lily's throat, which he does. After serving 6 months in Sing Sing "for flashing his hardon to two upper East Side bitches," Dagger returns to the Butthole bar where he kills Teresa, who has taken a liking to his brother ("Bros before Hoes"). Finally, the "switchblade sister," hell-bent on vengeance and dressed as a nun, catches up with Dagger. Not suspecting an attack, she takes out his dick and cuts it off ("that's for my sister") and then slices his throat ("and this is for me"). Lily also took back her sister's engagement. In the song "Duet To The Death," Ronnie and Lily fight it out with Ronnie pleading for mercy. In the end, Lily reveals that despite having taken vengeance, that "deep inside, she still feels the pain."

The extraordinarily talented cast included the following actors: Lily (Samantha Walkes), Kitty (Astrid Atherly), Dagger (Aaron Williams), Ronnie (Thomas Finn), Teresa (Heather Motut), Mooky (Robert Iannuzziello) and Kourtney (Felicity Adams-Hannigan). They all worked as a cohesive whole to bring this dark musical to life. Kill Sister, Kill! is ready for prime time and I think there is an audience out there who will appreciate what the production team has achieved. Shock musical theater may be here to stay!

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