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Kill Floor: Theater review by David Cote
Women are having a grisly time Off Broadway. Liberian rebels are forcing them into sexual slavery at the Public in Eclipsed. At Roundabout Underground, Ugly Lies the Bone’s Afghanistan vet bears facial burn scars. And then there’s LCT3’s Kill Floor, starring Marin Ireland. Abe Koogler’s sunny title does not deceive: Ireland plays an ex-con and single mother named Andy who finds work in a slaughterhouse. You might want to skip the preshow cheeseburger.
While Koogler doesn’t set any scenes where the killing is done, the notion of cattle being guided to their doom casts a long metaphorical shadow over the action. In one scene, Andy tells her horrified vegan son, B (Nicholas L. Ashe), about her new job, explaining that “they run the cow along…this special tunnel with all these curves, so it can’t see what’s ahead and it doesn’t know what’s coming.” Sure enough, in the next scene, B complains to his schoolmate/crush Simon (Samuel H. Levine) that his mother “does something, if it’s in front of her, and then screw the consequences, you know?” If his themes are telegraphed rather baldly, Koogler does write sharp, lived-in dialogue, and his characterization of Andy is quick-witted and unsentimental.
Ireland acts up a storm in this slight (and vaguely unfinished) piece, showing how Andy carries the accumulated weight of former addiction, divorce, jail time and now boiling resentment over an ungrateful son and pathetic sexual advances from her boss (Danny McCarthy). Her emotionally transparent face twisting into degrees of rage, disbelief, disgust and panic, Ireland is one of our most fearless and expressive actors, embracing pain and coarseness as few dare. And while the drama (keenly directed by Lila Neugebauer) treads tamely along a predictable path of bad things happening to good (flawed) people, Ireland can still deliver shocks.
Claire Tow Theater (Off Broadway). By Abe Koogler. Directed by Lila Neugebauer. With Marin Ireland, Nicholas L. Ashe, Natalie Gold, Samuel H. Levine, Danny McCarthy. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.
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