Ever since I was a teen I have been intrigued by the notion of what makes a killer. This stemmed from reading a biography of John Lennon’s killer Mark Chapman, and a morbid fascination with a line from the Smashing Pumpkins’ song Tonight Tonight:
“I send this smile over to you
The killer in me is the killer in you”.
The new play from English Theatre Leipzig (ELT) takes this premise of just what makes a killer, and opens up the debate to an unsuspecting (or not) audience. Based loosely on an Italian serial killer of the same name as the title, Roberto Zucco, it is the theatre company’s largest cast to date. This time a predominately non-native English speaking one too. The leading man we know from the acclaim he received for previously stepping out for ELT in ‘Someone Who’ll watch Over Me’ in 2014.
This play will bombard you with audio, visual, and emotional input to question whether it’s Roberto Zucco’ s background, upbringing, surroundings, desires, notion of evil, or madness that drives him to take the lives of others. An intense look at the theme, and a high-octane portrayal from Robert Günschmann as the title character.
It is a psychological drama interspersed with some rare comedy moments, such as ‘the melancholy detective’ and the interchange between the first and second officer of the jail during his breakout. Likewise, some funny one-liners – “that is the trouble with beer, you are just renting it”.
As always the lighting was technically sound, and I really liked the shaky projected lettering used to signify the titles of the scenes.
My own impression is that we were seeing the characters how Zucco perceived them, and the play was not quite what I and my friends accompanying me expected, based on previous ELT productions. Still maintaining elements of the director’s minimal approach in staging, and yet painting from a larger mix of characters and cast members.
ELT are always open to trying something new and different, tackling the subject of our humanity or inhumanity to each other – their unique way. Not all of you, just like me, will come away with a conclusive answer, but certainly an experience of the underbelly of this story.