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Big Guns


Big Guns by Nina Segal at The Yard Theatre, London E9

“Why don’t I like it? I’m with Chandler…”

There’s a scene in Friends where Chandler finds himself alone in the front row of a fringe theatre, wondering where all the others are. Just before he leaves, the lights go dark and an actress walks on stage and yells ‘Why don’t you like me?’ He stays, too embarrassed to exit.

Big Guns is not as bad as Why Don’t You Like Me? but there were some moments early on when Chandler’s predicament kept rushing to my mind.

[Debra Baker and Jessye Romeo]

The two characters in the play - conveniently called One and Two - although that is irrelevant because they never name each other - tell a story in the second person. An event has occurred and they have witnessed it - ‘we’ have witnessed it - and we are told what we think and what we do. The whole piece/script is in the form of poetry, a kind of Beatnik performance that I assumed no one actually did anymore.

That and the image of Chandler kept making me smile - inappropriately, given the intent of the story. We’ve been watching things, trawling the internet, communicating with the world from the safety of our home. But we see something. Or, rather, it is about the happen and the anticipation, the stress is unbearable. A video (or is it live? Is it real?) where a man with a gun enters a room. There’s violence. We can’t look away. There are sounds and visions we will never forget. The gruesome event has lodged into our mind. We are scared and alone.

[Debra Baker]

What is fantastic about Big Guns is the premise, the setting (the Yard Theatre has a great atmosphere), the staging (strong design by Rosie Elnile), the lighting (courtesy of Katherine Williams) and the sound (from Kieran Lucas). Especially the sound.

I found the play itself to be flawed in its approach and style. The horror simply didn’t affect me. Slopping a pink milkshake onto the stage, I assume to resemble blood, simply comes across as a childish attempt at gore and effect. Some of Dan Hutton’s directorial vision works - the use of long blackouts to great effect. But I found much of the production lacking in flow, it being at the one intense level for over an hour.

[Jessye Romeo]

The cast, Jessye Romeo plays One and Debra Baker as Two, have more lines to learn than your average Beckett two-hander. They perform randomly with microphones and without, hurling popcorn and fast food around the stage, with gusto and a confidence far superior to the material.

It is a concept so full of promise that falls flat for me because of the cliched performance style. And also because I simply cannot agree with the vision of the world as this bleak and mundane. On the other hand, the friendly audience seemed to like it. Maybe it’s me? Why don’t I like it? I’m with Chandler...

[Jessye Romeo and Debra Baker]

Photographs: Mark Douet

Venue: The Yard Theatre, Unit 2a, Queen’s Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN

Venue Contact: 020 3111 0570

Performances: Until Saturday 8th April 2017. Monday to Saturday 8pm.

Running Time: 70 minutes (no interval)

Facebook: /The Yard

Twitter: @YardTheatre #BIGGUNS

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