NY Review: 'Killing Time'

By Marc Miller

For most of its 90 minutes, "Killing Time" might be the sickest show in town. Writer-director Tom Slot traffics in serial killers killing innocent victims, serial killers killing each other, gory descriptions of dismemberment and torture, and madness in vivid close-up. Yet the tone is curiously mild, bordering on that of a sitcom, and the play is capped by a resolution that's spiritual and hopeful.

Slot rips his meditation on banality-of-evil multiple homicide from recent headlines, specifically the unsolved murders of prostitutes on Gilgo Beach, Long Island. He plays with facts—his Gilgo Beach murderer doesn't kill just hookers—and he intercuts between real-life 2011 and a not-quite-afterlife steel room where the victims commingle, compare notes, and bicker and banter in a manner not unlike the cast of "Friends." They don't seem that surprised at being bumped off, or that angry. They've been deprived of some but not all of their senses, and they try to figure out what they have in common and where they're supposed to go from this purgatory.

Meanwhile, up here, three serial killers, including the one from Gilgo Beach, stalk their prey. In both worlds, characters indulge in rather feeble wordplay (the Gilgo Beach murderer, the other killers posit, is a "hack"; one victim laments, "That's the part that kills me"), and Slot's plotting isn't always logical. Would two serial killers really meet cute, by sheer coincidence, in a Starbucks? And if you've offed your seatmate on a Greyhound, how do you inconspicuously transport the body?

Slot basically gives his characters one trait and lets them trample it into the boards, but they do so capably and entertainingly. I particularly liked Bill Bria's talkative sci-fi geek, Tatyana Kalko's calm amateur-sleuth corpse, and Daron Ross' gentle, methodical math teacher. Paul Caron's cop with a secret is more coarse and charmless than he has to be, and Claire Nasuti's shrill whore grows monotonous.

Is it all right to describe a serial-killer drama as laid-back? Slot seems to be against homicidal maniacs, and if he has anything profound to say about crime and punishment or the afterlife, it escapes me. Still, his writing and staging are spare and lucid (one silly slow-motion sequence aside), the victims' gallery is mostly good company, and the finale suggests a bright and peaceful hereafter for all, even crazed murderers. After so much discussion of limb severing, flesh stapling, and body burying, it's a nice note on which to exit.