Photo courtesy of Gerry Goodstein
Photo courtesy of Gerry Goodstein

If you want to know what ruthless, random murder  looks like, head to the Polonsky Shakespeare Center  in downtown Brooklyn. Here , you will find a mesmerizing Michael Shannon confronting an unconscionable killer (Ryan Quinn) in a phenomenal staging of Eurgene Ionescos’s The Killer.

You’ll have to wait about two hours and fifteen minutes for the final showdown in this three-hour absurdist piece, but under Darko Tresnjak’s direction, each moment will  be engrossing and captivating. Shannon stars as Berenger, a moderately laid back soul who has discovered the perfect city. He congratulates the architect (Robert Stanton) on building what he deems “A miracle” and a “wonder of science”. As Berenger rambles on, the conciliable creator of this “beautiful and magnificent ” town continues taking calls on his portable phone, conveniently located in his suitcoat. (Who knew how prophetic Ionesco’s use of technology would be when he created the play in 1957! )

It is only after moving into this perfect Utopia when Berenger discovers that a cold-blooded killer is on the loose in his town ; A killer who is seducing and drowning his victims in a lagoon. Each day, more victims are taken but the police are reluctant to take any action. Berenger cannot leave and is ultimately left to confront the face of evil by himself.The final portion of the show is a true triumph . Shannon pummels  through an insurmountable amount of dialogue, most of which question the murderer’s motives and our collective sanctity of life. The killer’s only knee-jerk response is a repetitive sinister chuckle.

The always daffy and enjoyable Kristine Nielsen provides some refreshing quirkiness. First, as the concierge of Berenger’s apartment and later as Ma Piper, a charismatic politician who is leading a brainwashed flock of geese towards a country where there is “free soup for everybody!”

Tresnjak deservedly just nabbed his first Tony Award for Broadway’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and has brought his same artistic flair to The Killer. This gripping and meaty drama will be well worth the time invested and is a must see for anyone interested in a superior night of theater.

The Killer is now playing through June 29th at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place between Fulton Street and Lafayette Ave. Brooklyn, NY.  For tickets, call 212-229-2819  or visit