Arts Reviews

”Well-Timed Yet Pleasantly Dark”- Theatre Review: Killer Café @ NNT

Nieve O’Donnell

*Content Warnings: Strong language, Reference to Domestic Abuse, References to Emotional Abuse/ Gaslighting, Discussion of Murder/ Gore, Suicidal Thoughts, Accidental Death*

A play about two people who meet every week in a local café to fantasise about killing one another’s respective partners may, at first, sound drastic. However, M Craig’s witty, well-timed yet pleasantly dark comedy was, in fact, a joy to watch. Nieve O’Donnell reviews.

As Freddie and Skye begin skipping yoga classes and accidentally bump into each other at a nearby café (which doesn’t sell cake, might I add), they find a bond which is tied to the fact that neither of them enjoy being with their partners.

the experiences they detail in the café are littered with emotion and depth

Through their weekly meetings at the café, references to domestic and emotional abuse, gaslighting and murder are placed in a way that provokes enough thought to move the audience to consider what life is like for the two outside of this café. Freddie’s husband Connor is, annoyingly, too perfect for him to cope with. Away from the laughter though, there’s just enough bitterness to acknowledge the gritty details of Skye’s relationship with husband Rob.

Immediately, the characters are gripping. Ellie De Souza (Skye) and Abraham ‘Jake’ Botha  (Freddie) did an excellent job of executing jokes, playing dead and just generally engaging the audience. You’re always wondering what else is going on within the exterior of their lives as the experiences they detail in the café are littered with emotion and depth.

Although Freddie (Abraham ‘Jake’ Botha) and Skye (Ellie De Souza) are central to the story-line, the cafe’s consistently displeased waitress added further word-play and laughs. Particularly, there was a moment where she heads over to the chalkboard to spell ‘Cappuccino’ but fails to spell it three times before resigning to just writing ‘Flat White’ – much easier. It was received with a bundle of laughs.

an innocent coffee shop was probably the perfect place to plot a killing

Set in a café, the set design included small tables placed around the audience with a covertly dark menu that showcased items such as a ‘Blood Orange Smoothie’; a nice addition which made the immersion between audience and the characters more real.

‘Espresso urself’ in bold letters at the back was a nice allusion to coffee shop slogans and brought the set together with peachy colours. An innocent coffee shop was probably the perfect place to plot a killing- unassuming and generally quiet, as alluded to during the show.

A soundtrack full of coffee shop music meant that The Velvet Underground, Otis Redding and Drug Store Romeos footed the bill, adding necessary and appropriate links to the play’s more jovial or more burdensome subject matter. Drug Store Romeos’ Secret Plan was especially well-placed as Freddie and Skye begin plotting away.

Without spoiling the endings, there are multiple. At first, this may have been confusing to the audience, however, the fact that the scene re-started in the same mannerisms meant that it was easy to catch on. The multiple endings also didn’t feel like a cop out; each ending felt appropriate and added to the comedic nature of the show. One ending also leaned towards positive sympathies towards the characters; the audience could hope for a beneficial outcome for the pair despite their unsuccessful relationships and vengeful plots.

Nieve O’Donnell

Featured image courtesy of The Nottingham New Theatre via Facebook. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @killercafe.nnt via No changes were made to this image.

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