Screen 9 ⭐⭐⭐

Review by Tony Frame. Venue 150. Pleasance at EICC – Lomond Theatre

Screen 9 deals with the mass shooting in Colorado which took place at the midnight screening for the Dark Knight Rises premiere in 2012. The shooting left 12 people dead and many more injured.

From the outset the venue at the EICC does a good job of transporting you into the scene. Amidst the darkness there’s a working projector on display and the seating arrangements are laid out exactly like a cinema auditorium. That and the free popcorn on offer all adds to the atmosphere which charts another horrific event in America’s ongoing problem with gun control.

The four cast members do a solid job predominantly addressing the audience with their individual experiences. And there was a real feeling of tension in the house in the build-up to the moment of them reliving the shooting.

The lighting dims and a misty haze is eerily emitted into the venue to replicate the tear gas the shooter used moments before the shooting. An unsettling ambience lingers in the air before the mayhem begins…

There’s a lot to take from this play and it’s certainly one of the stronger pieces of drama I’ve seen on stage in a while. So why did I give the rating I did? Well, there were a couple of things that bothered me.

When the actual shooting started it failed to deliver any sound accompaniments; a frenetic bombardment of gun shots and screaming would have really added to the terror and confusion that the characters went through and placed us at the scene more effectively.

I also felt that the moment-by-moment reliving of the shooting, as it happened, and the ensuing thoughts and dialogue from each individual lacked an urgency and a fast rhythm to amplify the horror and bewilderment as to what was actually happening in real time.

Perhaps I misunderstood the way this piece of verbatim Theatre was being presented; that it was meant to be a solely factual retelling of the event rather than a full-blown dramatisation (even though I thought it had elements of both), but I still think the latter would have had a stronger impact on us, the audience, if it had been done that way.

Nevertheless, Piccolo Theatre do an impressive job on the whole and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future. Go see this if you get a chance, it’s definitely worth a watch.

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