a mature SUIT column by Chris Jungle
"Goddammit, open this goddamn door before I burn the whole goddammit trailer park to the ground! Get outta that fuckin' bed. Right! Fuckin'! Now!"
That ends the first verbal barrage by Chris Smith and begins the play Killer Joe (written by Tracy Letts). In context, it seems like a throw away line when compared to the action that follows. Chris is let into the trailer by his step-mother who wears a wife beater and nothing else, and off this intense play goes for eighty more minutes.
"I'm sorry. It's just a bit distracting trying to talk to your step-mother with her bush staring you right in the face."
For the past four weeks, I have been playing the part of Chris Smith. In many ways, the role was not a stretch. First off, my name is Chris, so adjusting to the name change wasn't difficult. When I auditioned for the role, I asked a few actor buddies if I could play a 22-year-old fuckup, and they laughed and said I was made for such a role. Killer Joe takes place in Texas, so my childhood growing up less than ten miles from the New Mexico-Texas border finally came in handy in my adult life. In many ways, it was a stretch. Being intense and stupid at the same time can be very draining.
"You ever hear of Killer Joe Cooper...he's a cop...well, a detective actually...and he's got a little business on the side...he's a killer, he kills people...Mom's got a fifty thousand dollar life insurance policy."
Chris convinces his dad to hire Killer Joe to kill the family's estranged mother to get out of a six thousand dollar debt he has with drug dealers. Joe claims his sister Dottie as a retainer since the family can not pay anything up front. Typical to trailer trash stories, things go awry. Joe comes into their life and makes the family's virginal daughter love him. Chris doesn't handle this very well as he has more than a passing interest in Dottie himself.
"I can't let you have her, Joe. You gotta give her up because I can't look in the eyes otherwise. Do you understand, Joe? I don't want you to see my sister. I don't think you're a good influence."
The reviews of the performance were very favorable. Audiences connected with Dottie, as she is the only halfway redeemable character in the play. The press praised the acting, the set and the director's vision. Specifically, they described Chris as 'dumb and violent, with just enough smarts to get into a world of trouble,' ' a redneck heavy metal loser,' 'every inch the stupid stoner,' and 'the glue that holds the play together.' It's very strange getting accolades for being an idiot, but I've learned to be grateful any constructive comments people have about my acting performances.
"Oh my God, I'm fucked. Piece of fucking fuck suck cake."
As it turns out, Chris is doomed to failure. Although his mother gets knocked off, it turns out that no one in the family is not the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. Joe plans on taking his retainer for himself and leaving the family hung out to dry. After making the stepmother perform fellatio on a chicken bone leg, he convinces the rest of the family through fear to turn on Chris.
"I think maybe I'm not supposed to be on the Earth or something."
Consistent with every role I get cast in, young Chris Smith is destined to die. By far, this is the most violent and traumatic death I've ever performed. The entire cast turns on me and assists in the bloody end. My stepmother stabs me, Joe throws me up against the refrigerator and down to the ground while choking me, my father holds my legs while my stepmother stabs me again. I break free long enough to discover my sister has grabbed the gun I dropped, just before I get a bottle smashed in the back of my head. My father and step-mother pin me down while Joe chokes me more, and Dottie fires the gun breaking up the pile. I stumble to my feet, thinking my sister is my savior. Then, she blows me away, and my body flies into the back wall. She is pregnant with Joe's child.
"Do you like Texas? I never really cared for this goddamn state. You hear all these people saying what a great place it is and all, but it's really not. It's just a bunch of goddamn hicks and rednecks with too much space to walk around in."
This was a play for mature audiences with warnings of strong sexual content, harsh language and violence. I never thought I would enjoy being part of a violent play so much. The five member ensemble was full of talent, and we bonded to level I had yet to experience in the theatre. The director was intense and passionate, always pushing me to take Chris further down his road to destruction. Who knew being a shithead would be so rewarding? After tonight, it will all be over, and honestly, I won't mind. After dying three times a week for the past four weeks (and getting a concussion from accumulated abuse), it will be nice to live in peace for a while. Chris will always love you, Chris. Even though you are a supreme fuckup.