A Girl & A Gun

Wed 2nd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Dan Mahoney

at 13:22 on 22nd Aug 2017

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The Anatomy Lecture Theatre at Summerhall is an imposing place. Dark wooden benches form a semicircle around the blackboard where professors teach students the secrets of the body. It’s a proper old fashioned lecture theatre, the sort you see in old movies. My first impression on entering was that it reminded me of a courtroom, dark wood bearing down in judgement upon you. It’s an appropriate setting for Louise Orwin’s remarkable exploration of cinema, violence and sexuality ‘A Girl and a Gun’, a show that aims to teach and judge its audience in a manner that had a profound effect on me.

The format is striking. Projected onto the back of the theatre are live camera feeds of the stage from different angles and, for large portions of the show, the actual script and stage directions of the production. On stage are Orwin and a guest male performer who has crucially never seen the script before, reading off an autocue. It’s an ingenious setup that creates moments of great humour. The unprepared reactions of the performer were filled with laughs as Orwin’s script plays with the nature of its own construction. The fact we can see many of the stage directions as we follow along only adds to this, and there are some terrific meta gags in this witty script. Orwin’s exploration and deconstruction of screen tropes is pointed and funny, exposing the ridiculousness of our conceptions of sex on screen and undercutting them fantastically with moments of absurdity and slapstick.

But at the same time ‘A Girl and a Gun’ is the most unsettling thing I’ve seen at the Fringe and left me with an acute sense of unease. It’s a show in which the concept of a fourth wall is laughable; the act of observation makes one a part of the show and Orwin is determined to take us to task as to what this means. The self referential touches that can provide so much levity can also turn on us, providing moments which chilled me to the bone. It’s not that ‘A Girl and a Gun’ is aiming to scare, but its demolishment of the walls between active and passive is brilliantly unwilling to play by the rules we’re conditioned to accept. As the show reaches its conclusion it becomes an anxiety fuelled nightmare of violence and oppressive atmosphere, as sensuality and horror beco

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