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Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club

Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club

by Tracey Trinder

Director: Francesca Savige

Photos: Lisa Tomasetti

Ensemble Theatre until February 26

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

Who said that there are no decent stage roles for women?

Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club is an all-female five-hander that has opened at the Ensemble Theatre.

Robyn, who lives with her mother, hosts a monthly book club in which Linda and Sam are also members. The never-married, homely, anally-retentive Robyn has always existed in a protected environment and the book club is the only means by which she can assume the control that she craves. There are rules, very strict rules.

Linda (Bron Lim) is a single woman who wants to belong and doesn’t like to rock the boat. She feels suppressed and is a bit of a pleaser.

Georgina Symes plays Sam, a distracted gym junkie and single mother who constantly takes calls from her troubled teenage daughter. She rarely finishes reading the book of the month but enjoys the interaction with the other three.

As Angela, Robyn’s mother, it’s great to see Valerie Bader, whom I first saw perform in the 1970s and she has done almost everything in the theatre. Does Angela have the funniest lines, or is it just that Bader’s experience maximises their effect? It’s probably both. There’s no comedy by beats here. Bader instinctively feels the timing which seems effortless.

Enter the attention-seeking Katie who is the ultimate personification of advancing the plot. The aspect of any story that most creates and sustains interest is conflict, and Katie is the antithesis of Robyn. The arch-nemeses are bound to clash. Katie is intelligent, well-traveled, has a photographic memory and broad and deep general and literary knowledge. Her open expressiveness has no filters. Katie makes Robin Williams seem inhibited.

The tension builds and then Katie suddenly dies in front of the others. Then it turns into guilt and stress.

Every death has a corresponding birth. Flash-forwards reveal that the incident has had a Pygmalion effect on Robyn, but what has she put in her newly-published book, “Killing Katie”? Have the others been implicated in the death?

In this ensemble piece, all of the actors excel. The casting is perfect, and it’s gratifying that there is diversity in the non-racially-specific roles.

Chantelle Jamieson is ideal as the colourful, flamboyant Katie. Her stage presence is necessarily powerful and she commands attention.

I have never seen Kate Raison turn in a less than exceptional performance, and as Robyn, Raison again delivers. Her portrayal and posture of the prematurely middle-aged control freak is convincing. She even sports a stunt stomach.

Only a female director could maximise the subtle nuances of the script and relationship dynamics, and Franesca Savige does just that.

Inspired by the premature death of the playwright, the Ensemble Theatre has established the Tracey Trinder Playwright’s Award for an outstanding, unproduced comedy or comedy drama written by a woman playwright.

Either way, Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club is well-written, well-directed, well produced and, most importantly, is eminently enjoyable and entertaining.


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