There is a seemingly infinite amount of questions to grapple with when it comes to the end of our lives. Will it hurt? Do I need help? Should I be allowed to end it early? How should I die? Was my life worth it? How would someone else sum up my life? Killing Time explores all these issues as it delves into the reluctantly growing relationship between Hester Brooke (Brigit Forsyth) and Sara (Zoe Mills), a former celebrated cellist dying of cancer and her supposedly assigned social health care assistant. Hester has always lived life on her own terms – never settling down, never making roots, but making decisions that felt right to her and for herself. Now that she’s dying, she still wants to have the right to make those decisions. Shutting herself away from the world and occasionally returning to the cello that haunts her, Hester vacillates between toasting her assured celebration of the end with a glass of Rioja and crumbling in crippled loneliness and denial. Sara brings to her world new questions, and a morbid obsession with death and social media.
Killing Time is a poignant look at death and our legacy in world that can’t live up to the fantasies prescribed in our literature, our movies, and the internet. However, at times the sardonic humor so typical of British comedy can fall a little flat. This does not appear to be the fault of the delivery, but rather that the lines are a bit too scripted. This critique even echoes a criticism Hester levels against Sara, claiming her fake caring, slightly empathetic caretaker routine is unconvincing and false. Hester mocks that Sara reads like someone taking lines out of a script, just as I would say the actors in Killing Time sometime fall into. The very stylized lighting and transitional beats, as well as the use of video technology, soften the occasionally stilted dialogue as it suggests a slightly abstract twist to the production. The tech work is remarkably solid, fitting for a show that deals with our legacy to the public on camera.
Overall, the chemistry between the two women – a mother daughter duo in real life – is charming, authentic and thought provoking. The new friendship, the worry over our place in the world, and how to deal with prolonged grief are the facets of this show that ring the truest. Unfortunately, there is an angel of mercy twist to the show that I find to be unnecessary. The two women, of different generations and at different points in their journey, both struggling with the concept of a fulfilling life and leaving one’s mark in a world where originality is hard to come by is much more relatable and engaging. Killing Time is an at times though-provoking, at times funny 90 minutes that leaves you with an uncomfortable balance of depression and hope.