In an intense hour of fast-paced, dark comedy, Mark Conway’s performance of Alex Packers’s one-man show is nothing short of captivating and relevant. Following the Parkland school shooting in Florida just four weeks ago, the protagonist presents a chilling insight into the ways in which modern day pressures, technological interventions and social outcasting can drive us to commit the unthinkable.
On a simplistic set of a car seat and a backdrop of light-up boxes, Conway transports us seamlessly from his teenage bedroom, to his university dorm room, to a pounding house party through effortless storytelling. His character is instantly accessible, recognisable and likeable from the outset, which makes the character’s psychological journey towards planning a ‘payback attack’ even more hard-hitting. In a world where we are so quick to label perpetrator’s reasonings behind committing horrific attacks, Packer’s writing invites us to consider and question our part in the equation as a society.
The focus on gun violence in a school environment is powerfully relevant, though I suspect that the piece has taken influence from an American source. It feels slightly out of place amidst the British setting. Perhaps this is an intentional reminder that it is not anything near an impossibility for an act like this to be carried out so close to home, despite the majority of these incidents currently being reported overseas.
Packer’s writing beautifully combines moments of crafted, heightened language with crass, sexual content that captures the complex mind of a teenage boy struggling with the ever-changing and challenging world around him. It is a huge shame that there is not more of an audience in attendance this evening. Conway’s performance and Packer’s writing produces a thought provoking and accessible piece of theatre that tackles major issues in our modern day society, whilst remaining visually and audibly exciting, engaging, and incredibly entertaining. 4/5
Review written by Zoe Mace.
Ballistic is currently showing until Saturday 17th March at the King’s Head Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…