How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (see Off Broadway). By Halley Feiffer. Directed by Kip Fagan. With Katya Campbell, Keira Keeley, Jen Ponton. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.
How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them: in brief
Two neglected sisters and their oddball friend face obstacles as they grow to young adulthood in a play by actor-writer Halley Feiffer, directed by Kip Fagan for the Rattlestick.
How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them: theater review by Helen Shaw
Halley Feiffer’s Hobbesian How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them (nasty, brutish and only 90 minutes) aims at stylized cruelty, using revulsion humor and cartoonish characters for effective penny-dreadful chills. Her little thriller fizzles, though, when it tries to grow up. We meet sisters Ada (Campbell) and tomboy Sam (Keeley) when they’re only ten; already, they’re as intensely entwined as Medea and Jason. When bitchy Ada befriends guileless Dorrie (wonderful Ponton), the codependent sisters feed jealously on her bewildered love.
There’s great stuff here, particularly a softball-dugout interaction between bouncing Dorrie and needle-sharp Sam; the sweeter girl is a balloon waiting to be popped. But as Feiffer drags the tots forward into adulthood, she can’t maintain tension with her now-slackened timeline. Director Kip Fagan has the actors retain their adults-as-kids shrillness as they age, yet the show’s deliberate falseness stops working. What was dark and weird turns contrived; despite the play’s increasing violence, all the danger goes out of the game.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
THE BOTTOM LINE: This tale of childhood savagery is too arrested.
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