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‘Killer & Me’ entertains but lacks depth

By Michelle Kim

Section: Arts, Top Stories

April 4, 2014

This Thursday in the SCC Theater John Schnorrenberg’s ’14 “Killer & Me” opened for the first time. “Killer & Me” is like one of those Netflix movies that you choose to watch despite its triteness. Starring Andrew Agress ’17, Sarah Duffett ’17, Isaac Rabbani ’14, Michelin Bellmore ’15, Tristan Ramirez de Haro ’17, Page Smith ’17, Lisa Galperin ’14, Ryan Mouton ’17 and Danielle Frankel ’17, the play was inspired by a similar monologue Schnorrenberg wrote for his playwriting class. “Killer & Me” was going to be a drama before he decided to make it into a romantic comedy.

“While studying romantic comedies, I became aware of a number of tropes that I found problematic. Particularly troublesome to me was how many women would give up their dreams, ambitions and careers simply because some wonderful man had wandered into their life,” wrote Schnorrenberg in his director’s note. This problem is definitely portrayed in the show; Detective Rachel Amalea (Duffett) falls for her case study, serial killer Ted Bunstein (Agress).

While there was plenty to laugh at (the play was full of sexually suggestive jokes and references to Judaism), the production of “Killer & Me” could have been more polished. The sets, which were well crafted (Ted’s apartment has a modern painting that has blood-like splashes of red paint on it) had a number of extremely awkward transitions. At one point, Rachel sits on her desk chair while random cast members went on stage, pulling furniture off to the side. The lights were not even shut off during this set change, thus making it unclear whether or not this was intentional. This confusion is cleared up when Duffett pretends to freeze in place but ends up calling over a crew member and conspicuously whispers something; the awkward and unprofessional transition was, in fact, unintentional.

Other parts also could have been played out more smoothly. Some moments were way too long. One such scene is when Rachel sorts through blood-stained female clothing (after meeting Ted and agreeing to go to his apartment even though they are strangers at that point of the show); it seemed like she was sitting in his apartment and sorting through clothes for an eternity. Pulling out stained clothes and bras was funny for the first couple of moments. After what seemed like the hundredth clothing item, I was ready to fall asleep. The audience seemed to feel similarly. There was an awkward silence in the theater as Rachel held up yet another womanly garment.

Although it is known that Ted and Rachel end up together, I did not enjoy their relationship on stage. There is very little chemistry between the Duffett and Agress. This may be attributed to the extremely cliché situations written for the two: For example, their first kiss happens while they have their first fight. Equally unoriginal is the (awkward) sex scene that occurs right after they start canoodling. Ted and Rachel even bump into each other for the first time on the street, an unoriginal meet-cute.

While I did not like Ted and Rachel as a couple, I found Rachel’s character compelling. At first, she is not easily excited, in contrast to Bellmore’s Ashley, who is your stereotypical tearful and ditzy best friend. Bellmore utilizes high pitched squeals, whiny sobbing and overly excited jumping to portray Ashley. Duffett, clad in her work clothes, emits sensibility while portraying steady-headed Rachel. Whenever Ashley cries or gushes over Rachel’s romantic life, Duffett is able to maintain a bored and annoyed disposition while trying to discourage Ashley’s bursts of emotion. Sensible, hardworking and career-oriented, Rachel seems like she has a good head on her shoulders. Instead of staying like this, she becomes the stereotype that changes after falling in love. This aggravated me, just as Schnorrenberg intended.

It is intriguing that in the end, she becomes just as neurotic as her lover Ted. Duffett clearly transitions into a person who has lost all perspective and sense. She becomes restless and is distressed at the thought of losing her beloved Ted. It’s sad to see her character end her career and lose her mind over a man. This is what Schnorrenberg was aiming for: to show the stupidity of throwing away everything one has ever worked toward in order to be with “the one.”

There was no onstage chemistry; Rachel only becomes obsessive over Ted when she is alone. There is hardly any flirtation, unless you count making out and having sex as flirting. Ted and Rachel’s relationship is the focal point of the show, so the absence of relationship development does not make much sense. Although I enjoyed Agress and Duffett’s acting, I only enjoyed their characters when they weren’t together. Every trait was well played out, except for their scenes as a couple. There simply wasn’t enough chemistry to convincingly convey the attraction that probably existed on paper.

However uninspired the scenes revolving around Ted and Rachel were, the supporting characters were what really brought light and entertainment to the show. All three of Ted’s victims who come back as ghosts, the persistent environmentalist and the sleazy bar creep are all well-written characters who were all brilliantly acted out. A personal and crowd favorite was Venus, a hipster druggie who was portrayed by Frankel. Her drug-induced monologue-turned-poem (which made fun of social justice at Brandeis) was very funny. After loudly rambling on about the “cosmos” while wildly waving her arms about and throwing her head back and forth, Frankel elicited snaps from the audience. With her sloppy, medicated manner of speaking, Frankel was able to portray a poetic hipster-stoner who goes to poetry sessions.

Another great character was Doug Carson (Rabbani), who is Rachel’s boss and work partner. Overbearing, dimwitted,and desperate for Rachel’s love, Doug harasses Rachel every day and even goes so far as demanding to meet Rachel after she begins seeing Ted. Rabbani did an extremely good job of acting like an annoying redneck boss. He was even able to create an extremely annoying yet distinguishable posture for Doug—thumbs tucked in his shiny red overalls, cowboy boot-clad feet wide apart.

In the end, “Killer & Me” is definitely not a high-quality play. However, it does provide entertainment (and quality banana juggling). Go with friends, laugh at the sexual innuendos and have a good time.

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