Killer Joe (West End) Review



Orlando Bloom – Killer Joe Cooper
Sophie Cookson – Dottie Smith
Adam Gillen – Chris Smith
Neve McIntosh – Sharla Smith
Steffan Rhodri – Ansel Smith

Venue: Trafalgar Studios (Studio One)

Date: Tuesday 31st July 2018



Killer Joe is an interesting and messed up play, really getting into what people will do when it comes to money. Regardless of that effecting family and those they actually love. I guess it just helps to confirm that money really is the route to all evil.

Set in a trailer park in Dallas, Texas, Joe Connor a detective who also works as a contract killer is brought in by Chris who has a problem with drug dealers needing money. He wants to hire Joe to kill his mother so they can cash in on her life insurance. Chris’ father Ansel gets in on the act and agrees it would be a good idea. However Chris is not the brightest and when they cannot pay up front Joe decides to take advantage of the very innocent Dottie and have her as a retainer for his services. Adding to the creepy nature and showing that people will stop at nothing to get exactly what they want. Throw Sharla into the mix as Ansel’s current wife and carnage was bound to occur.


This was my first visit to Trafalgar Studios and it certainly is a very interesting set up. Killer Joe was on in Studio 1 which has a capacity of 380 seats. Which certainly means for a very intimate time. I was in what turned out to be the third row which was such a close view, it must have felt very strange sitting in the front row as you were pretty much on the stage and almost in the action. As you come into the theatre and up the stairs, you have to walk over the stage that is used as the outside of the trailer. This was also used for the actors to exit and enter the action as well. Such a different experience which I throughly enjoyed.

The chance to see Orlando Bloom on stage was something I was not going to miss out on this time. It was everything I had hoped for and more, I actually couldn’t quite believe it when he first walked up the stairs and stood with the cowboy hat on. Joe was a very interesting character and I certainly think it gave Bloom the chance to show off his acting skills. He has been given a lot of stick over the years, but I feel something like this should really back up that he has a hell of a lot of talent that people have not fully seen yet. I admire him for taking on this project, as it is a tough and well quite frankly horrible character. His accent was brilliant throughout and his stage presence was even better than I could have imagined.

Adam Gillen deserves a lot of credit for the emotional performance he puts in as Chris, really struggling to come to terms with that he might be killed because of the money he owns. Hating himself for the situation he gets Dottie in and totally freaking out on many occasions, I felt exhausted just watching him move around the stage in the bent over state. Sophie Cookson was also haunting as Dottie in what was a very impressive performance of a young woman who still seems to behave as a small child. Cookson is on stage well before the play actually starts doing different things within the trailer.

Overall, the play certainly offers an insight into the way a lot of American families live within trailer parks and the way in which they live and struggle through life. It has many twists and turns along the way, with some very tough to watch moments. I don’t think I want to eat chicken from the bone anytime soon. It also contains nudity both male and female. I am sure you are already aware we get to see Orlando Bloom in all his glory, a little too dark for full frontal but a lovely shot of his backside! I absolutely loved the placement of the music, especially the Bruce Springsteen song “I’m on Fire” which fit so perfectly in that scene. The use of the lights worked very well and it was certainly a very intimate production, so much so you felt that you shouldn’t be imposing on this very dysfunctional family. I actually did find myself laughing at times as well, so it manages to have that very dark black comedy feel to it. Where you feel wrong for laughing, but it gives everything that real life comparison as we all make jokes at inappropriate times.

A massive well done to the truly talented cast for this production, running until August 18th 2018.

6 thoughts on “Killer Joe (West End) Review

  1. The film was directed by William Friedkin, who made “The Exorcist” and “The French Connection”, and it starred Matthew McConaughey…it is a rough rough story, but I can only imagine that Orlando Bloom would nail it – great review and terrific pics!

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was outstanding, I am sure some people just won’t admit that he is actually a very talented actor.

      I have found the film on Amazon video, the Sundance add on but I can get a 7 day free trial.


  2. Another great review Caz. Would like to have seen it but it finishes just before my next London trip! I see the author Tracy Letts has acted in some high profile films recently, notably The Post and Lady Bird

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Ah that’s a shame, what are you seeing on your next London trip?

      I loved August: Osage County, the film version I would really like to see that on stage. It was a Tony Award winner the year I was lucky enough to go to the awards.


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