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Killer Joe

Killer Joe
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Tracy Letts
Publisher: Samuel French (cover image may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 84
Pub. Date: 2015
ISBN-10: 0573701059
ISBN-13: 9780573701054
Cast Size: 2 female, 3 male

About the Play:

Killer Joe has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues, Male Monologues, and Male/Male Scenes.

Killer Joe is a full-length black comedy by Tracy Letts. When trailer park lowlife Chris falls into trouble with drug dealers and needs some fast cash, he turns to 'Killer Joe' Cooper, a Texas Ranger who moonlights as a gun for hire, to kill his mother to collect the insurance. Of course, the best-laid plans never quite turn out as planned.

Killer Joe is a deep-fried Southern gothic tale that focuses on the Smith family, a greedy, vindictive clan of Texans. Chris Smith, a 22-year-old drug dealer finds himself in serious debt to the wrong people. He devises a lethal plan that will solve all of his problems, enlisting the help of his father and stepmother to murder their estranged matriarch to cash in on her insurance policy. Unable to bring themselves to do the deed, they hire 'Killer Joe' Cooper, a full-time cop and part-time contract killer, to get the job done right. But once he steps into their trailer home and comes face to face with Dottie, their innocent daughter, the simple plan quickly spirals out of control. 'Killer Joe' takes the daughter to bed as a retainer against his final payoff, igniting a series of events that lead to a memorably shocking climax.

Killer Joe premiered at the Next Lab Theater in Chicago in 1993 and this exciting first play by the author was then presented at the 29th Street Rep in New York City. Since then, it has been performed in at least 15 countries in 12 different languages. It won top honours at the Edinburgh, Scotland, Fringe Theater Festival in 1994, then played to sellout audiences at London's The Bush Theatre and transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre in the West End for a four-month run in which it won the Time Out Award as the Best Play of 1995. Killer Joe was revived in 2018 at the Trafalgar Studios in London, featuring Orlando Bloom as Killer Joe Cooper. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in fringe festival, regional and college theatre productions.

Cast: 2 female, 3 male

What people say:

"A tense, gut-twisting thriller ride in the theater. An astonishing piece of work." — Chicago Tribune

"Set in Dallas, Killer Joe revels in its white trash stereotypes, and gives you permission to do the same; it's pulp fiction which has it both ways, deriving humor from dirty realism. It's slick, it's well constructed, it knows exactly where it's going." — New York Daily News

"Killer Joe is an immensely entertaining pop artifact. Written with neon-lit flamboyance. Lift your Styrofoam cups to toast a hit." — New York Times

"Letts displays such complete assurance in manipulating the sheer gothic macabre of his material that it's practically wicked to watch… Killer Joe hits like a sharp splash of ice-cold water, and it's supposed to make you squirm." — The Arts Desk

"An exercise in Texan trailer-park Gothic, Killer Joe rams sickening horror and outrageous humour together as it pulls us into the morally stunted world of the American underclass." — Independent

"Keeps you hooked from the outset... cleverly plotted and queasily gripping, Letts's play offers a prophetic portrait of a society that, in its reliance on the small screen, is in danger of entertaining itself to death." — The Guardian

About the Playwright:

Tracy Letts is an American actor and writer for the stage, television and movies who has received major awards for both vocations, including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County. He is a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, where August: Osage County premiered.

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