October 19, 2015

A craving for a hamburger isn’t likely to strike after you’ve seen “Kill Floor,” a new play by Abe Koogler that opened on Monday at the Claire Tow Theater. In this well-acted, low-key drama, Marin Ireland portrays an ex-convict who finds a job at a cattle slaughterhouse. We never actually see the gruesome deeds, but Ms. Ireland appears onstage more than once in her work uniform, a rubber smock and gloves smeared in blood. Andy (Ms. Ireland) has just been released from prison after serving five years for a drug offense. She has been putting her life back together, but has had no luck finding a job, until she finds herself in the office of an old high school acquaintance — their memories of each other are vague — who runs the cattle facility. He warns her that the only job he has is on the kill floor, as it is called, where the cows are slaughtered and skinned, but she’s desperate enough to take it. Just as important work for Andy is the repairing of her relationship with her son, known only as B — no, it’s not a stylistic affectation, but a nickname — who is played with terrific sensitivity by the talented young Nicholas L. Ashe. Andy has lost crucial years of parenting because B was 10 when she went to prison. She finds her attempts to reconnect subtly rebuffed: A gift of video games is greeted with a sullen shrug. Also, he’s a vegan.