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Review: Greg Wise in the funny and poignant Kill Me Now, Park Theatre

Kill Me Now at Park Theatre. Greg Wise (Jake) and Oliver Gomm (Joey). Photo credit - Alex Brenner.  (2)
Greg Wise and Oliver Gomm in Kill Me Now at the Park Theatre. Photo by Alex Brenner

Sex, the disabled and the right to die; Brad Fraser's new play is certainly not shy in the topics that it tackles.

Set in America and drawn from real experiences in the playwright's life it tells the story of a Jake (Greg Wise) and his severely physically disabled son Joey (Oliver Gomm).

Joey is in a wheelchair. He cannot wash, dress or use the toilet without help. He is reaching puberty. He plays video games, smokes pot and surfs porn online and is aware that sexual relations for himself are unlikely. His disability also means he is unable to take care of his own physical needs.

Jake knows this too and hates to see how unfair life is for his son. He takes refuge from the strains of looking after Joey in his once a week visits to Robyn (Anna Wilson-Jones) a married, former student of his.

But when Joey asks to move out into an apartment with his friend Rowdy (Jack McMullen) events take an unexpected turn resulting in a reassessment of care in the family.

There are many things I like about this play. Fraser doesn't present a 'woe is me' tale rather a family just getting on with what life has dealt them in the best way they can. He also doesn't tip-toe around the topics. There is a frankness in the conversations that is born partly out of Joey's teenage bluntness and Jake's years of being his son's carer. It is nicely observed and its black humour tells you things about yourself.

The frankness is carried through in the awkwardness some feel around Joey, the relationships between family and friends and in the ultimate question of prolonging life versus right to die. It is the latter topic which slowly creeps up on you delivering such an emotional punch that for the second time in a theatre this year I found myself fighting, and failing, to stifle tears.

None of this would work half as well if it wasn't for the brilliantly understated performances. You do feel like you are a fly on the wall in the family home. Plaudits must go to Oliver Gomm for his portrayal of Joey, his physical and verbal performance is utterly convincing.

Kill Me Now is a rare treat where ordinary human experiences and needs are powerfully reflected. It raises interesting questions without feeling didactic and you can't help but walk away feeling moved. It is an hour and 40 minutes straight through and runs at the Park Theatre until March 25.