Killer Joe


Writers: Tracy Letts


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Dark Comedy
Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
west dallas, texas, present day
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Ensemble Cast, Mature Audiences, Regional Theatre, Small Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult, late teen characters


Killer Joe is an early play by award-winning playwright Tracy Letts. It tells the story of a young drug dealer named Chris who finds himself in desperate need of some cash. He and his father Ansel come up with the idea to murder Chris’ mother for her life insurance policy. They hire part-time hitman Joe Cooper to do the job, but complications arise when Joe insists on being paid in advance. Because the two men obviously can’t pay him before they receive their own dividends, Joe decides to accept Chris’ strange and childlike sister Dottie as “retainer” until his money comes through.

Killer Joe premiered off-Broadway in 1994, to mostly positive reviews. Letts went on to produce the screenplay for a film version of Joe, which won him a Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction. The film Killer Joe was released in 2012 starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, and Juno Temple.

Lead Characters

Killer Joe guide sections