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Killing Time review at the Park Theatre, London – ‘trite kookiness’

Brigit Forsyth in Killing Time at Park Theatre, London

Zoe Mills’ Killing Time presents us with a mother daughter relationship, not in the play, but in the cast. Still Open All Hours’ Brigit Forsyth stars alongside her daughter, Mills again, in a short, sweet-ish, but ultimately forgettable debut.

Hester (Forsyth) is a catty, cantankerous ex-cellist suffering from terminal cancer, whiling away her remaining days in a mess-strewn bedsit and gorging on a diet of multipack crisps and cheap red wine. Sara (Mills) is her suspiciously freelance social worker, who hides several dark secrets even as she ferries in a regular supply of Wotsits and Rioja.

Stuff happens. An old friend dies. Sara gets drunk. Hester plays the cello. Revelations spill out. But it always feels as if these are excuses for Mills to philosophise uninspiringly about death, about music, and about legacy. There’s never a palpable sense of drama or jeopardy, just a long, meandering, morbid conversation strung out over 90 minutes.

Mills and Forsyth supply proficient performances, the former skilfully evoking the tortured angst of the millennial cyber-aesthete with her daily selfies and one-second videos, the latter earning laughs with a blithe, dry, caustic wit. Antony Eden directs astutely, and together with designer Paul Colwell and video designers Kostis Mousikos and Alan Walsh, makes a clunky but valiant, Icke-esque stab at multimedia performance, incorporating projections of Skype calls and video diaries onto a wall of jumbled cardboard boxes. The whole thing ends up an unconcluded muddle, grasping for a trite kookiness that never materialises.

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An ambitiously staged but uninspiring debut about facing up to mortality