Bang Bang, She'll Shoot You Down

A Girl And A Gun, Camden People's Theatre ★★★☆☆

By Stuart Black Last edited 46 months ago
Bang Bang, She'll Shoot You Down A Girl And A Gun, Camden People's Theatre 3

A new festival of feminist theatre at the ever-forward looking Camden People's Theatre opened in a hail of bullets yesterday as A Girl And A Gun held up the stage.

According to that old cynic Jean Luc Godard, the gun and the girl are all you need to make a movie — and so here Louise Orwin has a lot of fun taking on the idea to see if he's right. It's a witty, sexy and sometimes sad dissection of screen sexuality with Orwin playing the role of Her opposite the only other character Him, who is played by a different and totally unrehearsed male volunteer each night. What Her then asks Him to do is at the heart of the show and with gun-play, slapping, spitting and dressing up involved, the final result ends up being something between a performance and a test.

The two roughly act out a boy-meets-girl b-movie with love scenes and shoot-outs set to a woozy Tarantino-tinged soundtrack including Al Green, Nancy Sinatra and the like. Orwin slinks around deliciously, purring her lines in a Southern drawl that's as sweet as cherry syrup. Meanwhile her stilted male co-star tries to keep up, by turns confused and elated by the parts she has him play. But the point is less to make him look silly than to unpick a cinematic notion of cool that many people take for granted, glossing over the fact that men get to do all the fun stuff while the girls mainly just cheerlead.

The use of a video camera to one side so we can simultaneously see another version of the film they are making is effective, while wry stage directions on a screen behind the actors underline the fact that cine-culture, which often seems to simply exist, has authored intentions behind it and those authors would do well to think twice about how and why they employ the old clichés. Perhaps the show could go further — it's ultimately a melancholy play rather than an angry one — but it still works well and acts as a fine curtain raiser for the nicely-named Calm Down, Dear festival of feminist work to come.

It's the third year CPT has staged Calm Down, Dear and the packed programme promises to look at the state of feminism today from every conceivable angle. The directorial team of Brian Logan and Amber Massie-Blomfield are to be congratulated on their innovative and energetic approach: you don't always know what you're going to get at CPT, but it's always something good.

A Girl And A Gun runs until 3 October. Tickets £12/10 with £16 double bill deals or you can get a Calm Down, Dear festival pass covering five shows for £40. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 19 September 2015