SummerWorks Review: I’ll Always Be There to Kill You [Pure Cassis Productions]

I_ll Always Be There To Kill You2

I really liked Patricia Marceau’s production of I’ll Always Be There to Kill You, or Je serai toujours là pour te tuer in its original French, for much of it’s hour-long running time. It’s a cute show, with an attractive, talented two-person cast with good on-stage chemistry.

The setup is quite cute too: Helen (Geneviève Trilling) decides she wants to die, but can’t do it herself, so she places a newspaper ad, answered by Simon (Christian Smith), and contracts him to kill her before the end of the summer. All she wants is to not see it coming and to go peacefully.

It sounds kind of dark, but it’s really not. Trilling plays her character’s resulting paranoia and fear of this stranger who’s living in her house and is supposed to eventually kill her to great comic effect. Smith, meanwhile, plays the straight man, but his character also not-so-subtly tries to convince Trilling’s that what she really wants is to live. Their interactions are, for the most part, quite cute, occasionally delving into the more serious matters like why she wishes to die and why he would accept such a job in the first place. And, inevitably, they fall in love. Aw.

Did you notice I said “cute” a whole lot in the preceding paragraphs? Ok, good.

Not that there’s anything wrong with cute, mind you. Sometimes I like a good piece of romantic fluff theatre, especially if the actors are good.

When I’ll Always Be There to Kill You falls down a little, though, is when it’s reach exceeds it’s grasp. It seems like at times, the play wants to be something more: a look at mortality, at the occasional desire that some people have to end their own lives vs. the fear of the unknown beyond this life. Which is great fodder for a play too, of course, and has been for centuries, but it seems like I’ll Always Be There to Kill You wants to explore this kind of heavy subject matter while at the same time keeping things as light as possible, and it’s a balancing act that doesn’t quite work. The characters are drawn in pretty broad strokes, with some fairly vague backstory offering few details about why Helen wants to die, or why Simon might agree to kill her, which is fine for a romantic fluff piece, but not for serious life and death talk. The ending, too, just doesn’t sit right; it goes from cute to serious in a split second and, without giving anything away, seems like a forced, concrete ending when something a bit more ambiguous might’ve been better.

It is distinctly possible that the play loses something in the translation from French to English, and if I knew enough French to follow it I’d probably see the French performance. Still, Trilling and Smith almost make it work.

I’ll Always Be There to Kill You or Je serai toujours la pour te teur has two performances left at SummerWorks, one in English on August 15 at 6 PM and one in French on the 16 at noon, both at the Factory Theatre Studio. See the SummerWorks website for schedule and ticket info.

Posted on by Brian in Everything, Summerworks, Theatre