MKA’s Kids Killing Kids took us back to November 2011 when David Finnigan, Georgie Mcauly, Jordan Prosser and Sam Burn-Warr travelled to Manila to work on a stage adaptation of Koushun Takami’s notorious Battle Royale, a Japanese novel and cult phenomenon about high school classmates pitted against one another in a gladiatorial death match. What the writers did not predict was the unfathomably large fan following their production would garner and the controversy and criticism it would generate.
Despite setting out to create a gratuitously violent work in a country coming to terms with its own distressingly violent history, the young writers managed to remain unwaveringly upbeat. From initial attempts to eat KFC on the steps of a Buddhist monastery to getting down to Lil Jon feat. LMFAO, these are four Australians who went overseas to have some fun and make some art. They did so with little knowledge of the context and culture in which their work would be produced or what that work would come to mean.
This documentary style production provided a platform for the group to go back and reflect on the accidental spectacle they created. It raised questions of the nature of violence, onstage and off, the spectacular power of social media and the responsibilities that come with artistic expression. While the writers seemed aware that there were big questions to be answered, their reflections – at least in this work – mostly remained shallow, much like their motivations for heading to the Philippines in the first place. I found Kids Killing Kids and the story of Battle Royale troubling, but it was certainly compelling. It definitely made for entertaining and thought provoking theatre. Even so, I didn’t leave liking these guys all that much.