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Killer Joe

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  456 ratings  ·  41 reviews
This exciting first play by the author of August: Osage County premiered at Chicago's Steppenwolf before going on to acclaimed productions in London and New York.

Hired by the dissolute Smith family to murder the matriarch for insurance money, "Killer Joe" takes the daughter to bed as a retainer against his final payoff which sets in motion a bloody aftermath as the "hit
Paperback, 72 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Samuel French, Inc. (first published 1999)
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Angels in America by Tony KushnerAugust by Tracy LettsThe Pillowman by Martin McDonaghArcadia by Tom StoppardDoubt by John Patrick Shanley
Best Plays Since 1990
152 books — 192 voters
Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareWaiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Best Plays Ever
729 books — 1,125 voters

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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  456 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
the newest stageplay from pulitzer prize-winning playwright tracy letts, killer joe revisits family drama and dysfunction - setting it this time in a trailer park outside of dallas. letts, as with august: osage country, exhibits an impressive command of dialogue and vernacular. noirish in theme, violent in the end, yet tinged with a delighting dark humor, the plot of killer joe, sadly, does not seem all that far-fetched. compelling on the page, it's likely captivating on the stage. letts is a fi ...more
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars, really. The best plays are the ones about absolutely dysfunctional people and how they attempt to relate to one another. Letts has a stellar way of putting it all together.

Chris Smith comes up with a fool-proof plan to have his mother killed for her insurance money, recruiting Killer Joe, a detective and occasional hitman, to do so. He ropes his father Ansel into agreeing to it, while his younger sister Dottie is the supposed beneficiary of the policy. They attempt to keep her ignora
Jon Hewelt
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Killer Joe is probably my favorite Tracy Letts play. Bug's a close second, but Killer Joe is definitely tops.

Chris is in dire financial straits, and the only option seems to be killing his mother for the insurance money. He, his father, and his father's step-mother, hire Killer Joe: a crooked detective who murders on the side. The only problem is that Killer Joe requires payment up front, no exception, and the Smiths don't have it. But perhaps he'll make an exception for Chris's sister, who imme
Mike LaRosa
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Is it cheating to read a couple short screenplays to finish my reading goal for the year? Anyway, if we're talking quality regardless of quantity, this play is nuts and made me really look forward to rewatching the film. These characters are so despicable and awful that the words and stage directions themselves hold up on their own. It just works, in an uncomfortably dark and abhorrent way.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brutal, biting portrayal of ugly, despicable people. This play will probably never be done in the Capital Region due to it's sexuality and violence. Please prove me wrong!
Matt Chan
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Okay, this is a page-turner of a play but dang, I probably never want to see it. It's basically awful people being awful at each other, with gruesome consequences. I can see it being very effective in the theater, and the book itself is pretty well written, but not necessarily a way I want to spend my time.
From IMDB;

When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.

With Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple.

Southern Gothic
Victoria Claringbold
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tracy Letts has a way with dialogue and family dysfunction. This play is a black comedy and as exciting and unpredictable as his other works. I have another Letts play I must read now. There are good monologues for males ages 38, 22 (Texas accent).
Juan Camilo Velandia Quijano
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Letts never disappoints. This play is strong, surprising, bold and exciting. The reading is stressful, you always want to know what's going to happen in this crazy family, and surprises come one after the other. The author's talent in creating a story is clear once again.
Bruno Baba
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It was very interesting. The only thing I didn't enjoy was the ending. The characters were unique and not like people I know from everyday life
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
holy fucking shit
Grant Conversano
Great Play.
David Krajicek
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A bit of a trifle with an endgame twist, but an interesting read and character study.
Mary Margaret
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This play was fucked. Up.
Emma Rund
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, scripts
Wowza. I love a dark play. I really do. There aren't a lot of thriller plays out there, but to find one by Tracy Letts? I'm a happy camper. This is a wild play and I loved it.
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Letts uses the phrase 'detritus of the poor' to describe the various types of junk that litter this play's single set and that phrase is very telling of his attitude towards his subjects. There is not a missed joke about rednecks and there are characters that amount to no more than collections of white trash stereotypes. However, when he chooses to elevate characters it's done beautifully and adds just enough poignancy to what is otherwise a grotesque southern gothic that revels so delightfully ...more
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it
In Endless Love, Scott Spencer says of a character, "She was either too close to people to make fun of them, or too far above them to bother; it depended on her mood." This is the same issue I have with black comedies, which I didn't realize this play was until I read some other reviews. I liked this story of a family who hires a hitman but hasn't thought it through and it held my interest but didn't make me laugh.
♥ Sandi ❣
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 4-library, 7-play
Called a black comedy - I believe this was Tracy Letts first play - era 1999. I call it pulp fiction. The characters were developed well and altho there was plenty of violence this play was one that moved well and kept you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next scene. Teaming with sex and violence, the premise was the hiring of a hit man to claim the insurance money. This play later became a movie.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tracy Letts is talented AF and that is a fact. He developed the most solid characters through superb dialogue and then puts them into crazy circumstances. He clearly has an affinity for white trash and Hhe can speak to them like no other. I am just gaga over this play and the WTF ending.

Dark. Funny. Real.
Daniel Sloyan
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love the movie version, and reading this made me like it more, since the whole play takes place in the trailer, yet the movie was able to take several scenes that occurred off screen and show them happen, it's still a dark twisted tale, with several lines of dialogue verbatim as they are in the film, very quick read, took me like an hour
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-read
I loved the movie so I thought I'd give the play a try. The movie followed the play pretty closes...except for maybe the end. I can't remember if the play's ending is the same as the movie because I actually don't like the play's ending too much.

Reading it is one thing but actually seeing this acted out makes it more powerful!
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
manipulative characters, lots of physical action building to the violent climax. Not sure if I felt satisfied with who had their hands on the trigger at the end of the play, but overall, I see why it's widely admired.
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I'm blown away by this. This is disturbing and thought provoking all wrapped up into a crime drama that slowly takes you down the drain into hell. Obviously, this is dark, dark, dark, and oddly funny at times. I wrote my thoughts about the film on my blog:
Feb 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Fantastic setup and gritty, honest, characters, but so gruesome. I feel like I see enough of that on tv.
Rosanna Threakall
Sep 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: educational
Read for my Contemporary British American Drama class.

May change my rating soon!
Lorma Doone
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Tracy Letts is America's answer to Martin McDonaugh. This play is a prime example that he's not afraid to take it there.
CR ♥
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
it was great. letts creates the epitome of a dysfunctional family. this was like a soap opera set in a trailer park.
Travis Handcock
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Pretty awesome script. Full on. But one I could see myself putting on.
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read this play for book club. I had no idea what I was about to read. Very dark. Can't wait to discuss it.
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Tracy Letts is an American playwright and actor who received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County.

Letts was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma to best-selling author Billie Letts, of Where The Heart Is and The Honk And Holler Opening Soon fame, and the late college professor and actor Dennis Letts. His brother Shawn is a jazz musician and composer. He also has a brother Dana. L
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“You ever hear of Killer Joe Cooper?” 1 likes
“Now think of it this way: which do you think would be better for Dottie, havin’ ten thousand dollars so maybe she could go to that Amazon school, or havin’ a beat-up, old, ugly, naggy, alcoholic” 1 likes
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