Tracy Letts


Theatre of Nations, Moscow
Director: Yavor Gyrdev

The performance by the Bulgarian director Javor Gardev is the first Russian production of the play by the American writer Tracy Letts. Many people consider “Killer Joe” as a forerunner of a whole new trend in theatre and cinema art, among the brightest representatives of which are Quentin Tarantino and Martin McDonagh. Gardev likes staging the plays where the strong plot is connected with moral issues. According to the director, the playwright Letts continued the line started by Chekhov and ‘debunked the pathos of tragedy with the laughter bacillus.’ In the play “Killer Joe” there is something of an ancient tragedy: requital catches up with the funny and awkward characters that are unaware of the existence of conscience. The father and the son decide to order the mother’s murder in order to get her insurance, and it’s a policeman who is to become the hired killer. The characters do not have intellectual potency to realize the horror of their deed. But it turns out that the sense of guilt is triggered even if people do not know about such a category. In other words, the production has the structure of tragedy but the texture of comedy. ‘As a matter of fact’, says the director, ‘this play is about the compatibility of morality and stupidity.’ Javor Gardev has repeatedly tested on the stage the interaction of pop culture and high art. And in “Killer Joe” he plays a risky game with acting styles and spectators’ associations, with a cliche'd representation of America and ‘real’ American myths. He leads the audience and the actors where you can talk about the terrible with a laugh, and the funny turns out to be discouraging in the end.

Roman Dolzhanskiy