The Killer

Written by Eugene Ionesco

Translated by Donald Watson

Directed by Mike Steele

May 30 – July 13, 2019



A conscientious citizen finds himself in a radiantly beautiful city. There is only one problem in Utopia – it is marred by the presence of an unknown and relentless killer. This dark absurdist comedy is a study of pure evil and an indifferent society that allows it to flourish.


The Killer is… emblematic of what Trap Door continues to do so well.—Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune

…the staging, choreography and performances are very good.—Nancy Bishop, Third Coast Review

The cast includes Dennis Bisto, Michael Mejia, Kevin Webb, Holly Cerney, Abby Blankenship, Keith Surney, Logan Hulick, and Laura Nelson.


… a murderer’s row of fine performers, who know how to negotiate both the highly physicalized style of this production and the verbal interplay…this production rests mostly on Bisto’s shoulders, and his performance alone is reason enough for fans of Ionesco (or the Ionesco-curious) to check it out. —Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune


Bisto is amazing in the lead role…Karen Topham, Chicago On Stage

Eugene Ionesco (playwright) was born in 1909 (or in 1912, according to some sources) in Slatina, Romania. His father was Romanian and his mother French-Romanian and he spent his early years both in his native land and in France. During WW2 he moved to France and lived there until his death in 1994. During his long career he published essays, books for children, and a novel, but he is best known as a playwright and one of the major forces, alongside Beckett, Genet and Adamov, behind the Theatre of the Absurd in France. His first play, The Bold Soprano (1950) inaugurated a series of short, antilogical anti-plays (The Lesson [1951], The Chairs [1952], The New Tenant [1995]) in which many of his themes, such as the cliches of thought and language, the irrationality of materialist values and the loneliness and isolation of the individual, first appeared. Later, full-length plays, such as The Killer (1959), Rhinoceros (1960), Exit the King (1960) and Macbett (1972) offered somewhat more positive protagonists who hold out against the conformity but lack any rational explanation for their actions. His characters tend to be unthinking automatons unaware of their own mechanical behavior. All of Ionesco’s plays deal with a human situation from which the element of rationality (and of rational language) is absent; more specifically, all Ionesco’s drama is a satire upon a middle class, its speech, its manners, and its morals. Ionesco is a master of partial communication. A speaks, B listens, B then replies as if A has not relayed any information whatsoever. In 1970 Ionesco was elected to the Acadamie Francaise.

Mike Steele (director) is the former Founding Artistic Director of The Island Theatre (R.I.P.). Directing credits include Sad Happy Sucker by Lee Kirk (Trap Door Theatre), The Fever by Wallace Shawn, The Glass Inward, and Tourist Trap (The Island). Over the past two years Mike has been devising and directing a series of original dance-theatre pieces titled The Capillaries, which have been presented at Links Hall where he was a 2017 Summer Intensive resident artist. A frequent performer, Mike has appeared in over 25 professional productions including Occidental Express (Trap Door Theatre and International Tour), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Trap Door Theatre-Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble), Much Ado About Nothing (Alchemical Theatre), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Strawdog Theatre), Sight Unseen (Adventure Stage), No Beast So Fierce (Oracle Theatre), Skriker (Red Tape Theatre), and many more. Mike holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Studies from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.

The production crew includes set designer Nicholas Schwartz, costume designer Rachel Sypniewski, makeup designer Zsofia Otvos, sound designers Matt Test and Sam Clapp, lighting designer Richard Norwood, choreographer Jesse Hoisington, graphic designer Michal Janicki, dramaturg David Lovejoy, and assistant director Skye Fort.