September 15, 2008

No Big Bang in Student Play

By DUFF, Michelle

REVIEW Bang Bang You're Dead Directed by Cassie Rowe, The Dark Room. Reviewed by Michelle Duff -------------------- Have you seen The Princess Bride? I love that movie. It's a classic childhood fairytale, all giants and princesses and six-fingered men.

Last year I rented it with a friend, who hadn't seen it. While I sat giggling, she remained poker-faced. What was so good about that? she asked, confused.

In the directors note to this play, Cassie Rowe writes: "I decided at the age of 15 I wanted to one day put on Bang Bang You're Dead! . . . now I can finally fulfil that goal."

I reckon if I had watched this play nine years ago, when I was 15 and it was written by William Mastrosimone, I might have liked it.

It's based on the true story of Kip Kinkel, an American teenager, whose killing spree in 1998 left both parents and two students dead.

Three other school massacres had just occurred, and this play examines the motivation behind the violence.

Interesting, edgy, relevant? Probably, then. But I struggled to see what a group of Massey University Drama Society students were doing performing it to this audience, now. There are moments of brilliance from the passionate actors. Lead Tom Wardle plays messed- up murderer Josh with a pathos that rings true, while others jump seamlessly from character to character.

The only problem is, there's never a moment where I forget I'm watching a play. And by the end, when the "dead" kids are lamenting their lost lives in a series of sentimental snapshots - "I'll miss Mum's cookies . . . I'll miss pies," I've had enough. I know it's sad; we all know it's sad.

Maybe I'm just cynical. Take your teenage daughter, she might learn something. But for the rest of us, there are no surprises.

(c) 2008 Evening Standard; Palmerston North, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.