A Girl and a Gun (Summerhall: 2-27 Aug: 18.00: 60mins)

“A greatly rewarding hour of insight and grace for cinephiles, feminists, and iconoclasts everywhere.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Outstanding

Louise Orwin is one savvy film buff and her one-woman show, A Girl and a Gun (the title of which is derived from Jean-Luc Godard’s notorious quote “All you need to make a film is a girl and a gun”) is sixty minutes of finely crafted satire/tribute/criticism/fun on that very notion. For cinephiles and non-cinephiles alike, A Girl and a Gun offers laughs, thrills, and intimate insights into some of popular culture’s most beloved genres and setups within film, while asserting a masterfully subversive message.

Orwin is an electric performer, constantly keeping the audience guessing and engaged as she flits from scenario to scenario as “Her,” representing the interchangeable, lazily written female in so many Hollywood films. She is accompanied onstage by an unspecific male counterpart, as “Him,” a random actor who had responded to the show’s online call for male performers, and who is a different person every night. “Him” reads his lines from a teleprompter, and is, charmingly, just as surprised, shocked, amused, and impressed at the show’s content as the audience is at every turn. For Orwin has created an amalgam of sorts, of every misogynistic and abusive male-female dynamic presented in male-ego-centered films, to prove how toxic and destructive masculinity in popular culture can be.

“Him” is scripted to seduce, kiss, betray, bully, abuse, physically hit, and generally mistreat “Her” in carefully structured ways, so that sometimes he has free reign to strut around and take advantage of the audience and damsel in front of him, and other times he has no real choice but to act like a heel. Her commentary is strikingly simple, as she uncovers the terrible unfairness and cruelties beneath many a male/female action hero/damsel dynamics.

What is most impressive and reassuring about the show’s approach is the level of research evident behind the faithful recreations of the films it satirises. It is presented in a format all Tarantino fans will recognise; divided into chapters with pseudo-poetic titles like “Cherry Picker” or “Why You Don’t Have to be American to have an American Dream,” which is a particularly impactful one. Taglines, catchphrases and devices from lots of Tarantino’s writing are featured, including dances reminiscent of Pulp Fiction and Death Proof, and the opening theme from Kill Bill – indeed the piece is chock-full of cinematic observations and criticisms that are spot-on if you are a fan of the retro-worshipping, Western-esque American odysseys Orwin comes after. There is a particularly impressive and hilarious sequence in which Orwin and the male actor recite all the typical names of “Him” and “Her” in these films, like Charlie, Bobby, Big Charlie, Big Bobby, Tommy, Tony, Big Tommy, Big Tony; Suzie, Jenny, Little Suzie, Little Jenny, et cetera.

Points like these are also, in a larger sense, what makes Orwin’s show so clever and incisive; there are no individual films or even individual scenes that are criticised on their own. Rather, A Girl and a Gun takes aim at the sheer repetitiveness and laziness of re-used, tired tropes, with great success. One of the most memorable sequences comes near the ‘end’ of the experience, when “Him” has forsaken “Her” and she must, as she does in so many films, die. Orwin’s “Her” dies at least ten times in a row, in various gruesome fashions, from being shot with numerous types of firearms to being tied to a train track and run over. Her point lands with a surprising amount of grace, as we recall so many female characters who have been extinguished simply to prove the male protagonist’s point, and it is the sheer quantity of such deaths that packs the greatest punch.

The attention to detail in this show is also commendable, from the use of projection and subtitling to recall a movie being written and filmed, and on-screen directions for “Him” to don various costumes, play with numerous prop firearms and “act like he is in an action movie”. This device in particular leaves a meaningful impression, presenting both “Him” and “Her” as pawns of the written scripts, and suggesting it is not necessarily inherent to a man’s composition that he acts so cruelly — he is written that way, much as many men may have learned their behaviour from movies where that very same behaviour got the girl and saved the day.

A Girl and a Gun presents an ingenious deconstruction of male ego, cinematic influence, and the truth beneath the beauty of so many of society’s favourite films. It is a greatly rewarding hour of insight and grace, plus a goldmine for cinephiles, feminists, and iconoclasts everywhere.




Reviewer: Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller


Tribute Acts (Assembly Roxy : 8 – 30 Aug : 14:50 : 1hr)

“Undeniably weird, but in the best way possible. “

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars Nae Bad

It’s very hard to describe Tribute Acts. It is, essentially, what would happen if you fell asleep during the changeover between a biopic on childhood and a documentary on the last twenty years of British politics – after, about an hour before, sticking your face in a plastic tub of peyote.

Over the course of an hour, Cheryl Gallacher and Tess Seddon took us on a journey through their childhoods, dictated by their relationships with their fathers – as revealed through a series of interviews cleverly projected on stage. Of course, nothing’s fun if it makes sense: prepare to see inflating suits, saxophones, and the most terrifying incarnation of Margaret Thatcher ever conceived. It’s undeniably weird, but in the best way possible.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say the show’s biggest strength was its heart. The touch of the personal is clear throughout, but especially at the show’s ending. Gallacher and Seddon succeed in capturing admiration and disappointment through what ends up being very poignant and touching interviews with each-others fathers, and translate that feeling to the stage without losing any impact.

And there’s no denying that Gallacher and Seddon are just fun to watch. As they pranced around the stage, it was clear that they were having a good time with what they were doing – especially watching the audience reaction to their more left-field jokes. This is very much their show, and their personalities shined throughout.

Unfortunately, however, some of their act  felt underplanned or under-rehearsed. Problems such as lines coming off as wooden, or accidentally overlapping with pre-recorded interview footage tarnished their act. And whilst many of the jokes from the interviews were genuinely funny, often the on-stage jokes seemed to fall a little flat; either lacking in energy, or just feeling a little too awkwardly delivered. More than once, there was an uncomfortable silence where we knew a laugh should have been.

The show was still enjoyable despite these gripes, and I think Gallacher and Seddon’s message survived them largely intact. This is a show that stays with you after you’ve seen it, for better or for worse. And, at the very least, it’ll make you want to call your dad.

nae bad_blue

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 13 August)

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Consumption (theSpace on the Mile, 14 Aug – 28 Aug: 11:05 : 55 mins)


“A show bursting with acting talent”

Editorial Rating:  3 Stars

In a scathing commentary on western practices of consumption and living above one’s means, “Consumption” follows the tragic story of Sebastian, as the ins-and-outs of money, life and love threaten to swallow the unfortunate hero whole in a sea of fake smiles and credit card bills.

And what a tragic hero he is – Mark Wallington absolutely steals the show with his portrayal of seething, raw emotion, resulting in what was the most accurate representation of a man pushed to breaking point I’ve seen on stage. And Grace Bussey should be given praise for her portrayal of self-absorbed stand-in for the upper classes, Penelope: it takes skill to portray a character so viscerally unpleasant, and she does so magnificently. This is a show bursting with acting talent: every cast member pulled their own weight beautifully, and never missed a beat.

Of course, these character portrayals were benefited greatly by the Consumption’s surprisingly realistic dialogue. Whilst some of the more abstract portions of the show may be further removed from reality, the conversations between characters sounded very, very real – I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear some of them in the street. Joanne Griffiths stands up to her considerable writing credentials in this respect, and captures the spoken word with uncanny accuracy.

However, these strengths were overshadowed by weaknesses with the show’s plot, which oscillated wildly between intriguing and ridiculous. Whilst the message is admirable, it’s execution was sloppy: the jibes at western overconsumption weren’t so much on the nose as they were lodged somewhere in the frontal lobe. This was cemented by a major plot point near the end of the second act which ultimately had no consequence, no build-up, and no reason to exist other than to be a neon finger saying “Look at the evil overconsumption hath wrought”.

For a show which portrays its characters with such realism, it seemed so utterly removed from reality that it was nearly comical, betraying the dramatic tension so thick in the first act – and proving an infuriating waste of an otherwise excellent script.

Consumption’s cast should be congratulated on their stellar character work, in what was no doubt a tough show to put together and even tougher to pull off. It’s a shame that certain narrative elements marred it so greatly, especially in a script which showed such promise. With a few more revisions, I’m sure Griffiths’ admirable message can shine in the light it deserves.


Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 12 August)

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