Killer Joe

Dottie Smith, played by Debbie Maciel, stands ready to shoot killer Joe, played by Michael Pamberton. 

Photo by Mako Horikoshi at floridaplayers.org

Friday, March 13th, the university’s Florida Players performed their opening night of the show Killer Joe. Nick Chinaris, director of the show, described it in a short interview on the group's Facebook as a “black comedy, so even though there are dark moments, there are still laughs.”

The story surrounds a poor family living in a Texas trailer park. Out of hatred for Ansel’s ex-wife and desperation for money, the family hires a killer and dirty detective named Joe. The play shows the plotting and unravelling of the family’s plans to kill Ansel’s ex-wife and collect her insurance money.

As the show progresses, It gets darker and more uncomfortable. The script is very graphic and contains explicit material not suitable for children or very sensitive people. It leaves an impression on the audience and ends ambiguously, unsure of the remaining characters’ fate. In the director’s note, Chanaris describes the show as “meant to challenge the audience” extracting its “impactfulness from reality.”

Hunter Rothstein, who played the character Ansel said “I love realism when it comes to plays.”

Rothstein is a freshman acting student, and Killer Joe is his first Florida Players Show. When I asked about what genre of show he likes to perform the most, he said “I’m a huge musical theatre nerd. I have never really done a show this extreme before and it was really exciting to do.”

The cast auditioned for the play the week after Thanksgiving break. I asked Rothstein how he reacted when he first saw the script, of which the opening scene contains multiple expletives.

“I was just so stunned about what the hell I just read.” He said, “I had to talk to my friends about it.” Rothstein also talks about his character, Ansel, describing him as having “many, and I mean many, weaknesses.”

I asked him who his favorite character in the show is. He responded, “I really like Dottie. She’s such a fun character and I really think she’s a lot smarter than she seems.”

The actors, Michael Pemberton, Diego Zozaya, Debbie Maciel, Megan Wicks, and Hunter Rothstein really brought out the true colors of their characters. The performance was very engaging, and I would recommend it to those who enjoy this style show.  

Correction: The original blog post incorrectly spelled Diego Zozaya's name.