by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Butt fucking, blow jobs, penis tugging and pistols…exibitionism ranks high in what is otherwise a very old school character monolog driven presentation of sex, lies, confessions, more sex and videotapes in Bang Bang currently playing at Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA.

If you’re here for a fun night out, be prepared…casual or easy is NOT what’s on display. Bang Bang audience members will find plenty of the content invariably homoerotic, emotionally everywhere, immature, funny, often disjointed, and despite the nudity and stories developed from headline news within this piece, and in the oddest of ways, wildly ordinary .  

Backing up…Bang Bang written by American playwright Michael Kearns as presented has a balance of power at work here. One one hand it has the edifice of being highly gratuitous, on the other there is an efficacious subtly . The subjects themselves have important dialog to express.  There is a need to be heard. The ideas within this piece are very charged…some of the script in fact, downright, deliciously hard-core, dealing with school shootings, murder and molestation. There is a realness and compassion written into this work which finds direction through storytelling. But the character work at times comes across as vanilla and the end result was not as impactful as I would have expected.  And I did expect a literal Bang — BANG! 

The poetic line housed inside the piece threading together a multitude of stories of guns, shooting, sex and sexual violence, Irish con man Padric, romping around stage sadistically “playing” everyone and filmmaker Peter are the most compelling elements in this tale with the extraordinary exception of actor David Pevsner’s spot on believability – bar none – as psychiatrist Dr. Jack L/Mr. Hide & Seek.

Mr. Pevsner’s throw down of his characters, the concerned, highly curious doctor who transitions into a methe- addicted serial killer, is impeccable, volumptous and gritty and where the story finds its true denouement long before the ending. In a phrase, “He nails it!” – the characters, the life of the thread, all the emotions and the true violence presented.

Highly recommended.

Synopsis:

Peter, one of the play’s main characters, is a documentary filmmaker and his film-in-progress (titled Bang Bang) reveals the heartbroken lives of the viscerally wounded. The documentary that is being filmed becomes the play: a collage of confessionals and testimonies, intimacies of sexual rage, and arias of palpable loss.

A man loses his black son in a white cop shooting; a woman loses her husband and daughter in a random school shooting; an elderly man plans to off his wife, who is in the throes of Alzheimer’s; a prostitute murders her boyfriend-pimp; a gay therapist morphs into a meth-addicted serial killer; a cop relives his experience of removing children from a schoolroom that was “a sea of blood.”

But Peter’s film shoot is interrupted by Padric, a charismatic Irish con-man who steals not only hearts, but stories…

Written by Michael Kearns, Moon Mile Run Partner
Directed by Mark Bringelson
Featuring: Mike Ciriaco, Michael Matts, JoNell Kennedy, Lizzie Peet, David Pevsner, Ryland and Shelton

Photo (above) by Gina Long: Mike Ciriaco and Michael Matts in Bang Bang.

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