Until Wednesday 31st August, shows start at 6.15pm
The tagline: “Anti-Gun Crime play for ages 14 and up.” I
rolled my eyes. Hard. They scraped across my eyebrows. Memories of performances
and videos “4Kidz” inflicted upon my teenage brain during
PSHE lessons surfaced like orcas of condescension. I was not looking forward
I entered The Black-E, passing the inebriated man urinating against it's
neo-classical walls (not part of the performance) and nestled amongst
the audience sat around the central feature of the show: The hospital
bed of 15-year-old gunshot victim Spencer. That was my last moment of
smug contempt before, over the course of the next hour, my prejudices
The story centres around Spencer, but it's best lines are saved for the
engines of the show – Angels of Death called Chalice and Brown.
The play consists almost entirely of these two characters brutally killing
time at Spencer's bedside in anticipation of their boss, The Grim Reaper
(who is running late due to a suicide bomber). Although the pair are clearly
anologous to pantomime dames – cracking jokes, mocking the audience
and brazenly improvising – their relationship reminded me more of
Vladimir and Estragon. In fact the whole show is structured very much
in the style of Waiting for Godot. Brown often pleads with the intellectually
superior but equally bored Chalice to indulge her in games or diversions;
it is from this series of vignettes which we learn fragments of Spencer's
immersion in gun culture and his complicity in gun crime. A bit. To be
honest, the “message” of the play is buried beneath the comedy,
choreography and music of the piece. Which is, admirably, how I believe
writer / director James Shaw and the ensemble cast intended it to be.
It would be wrong of me to write for too long without remarking upon
a feature which helps to extricate “Firearms and Fingertips”
from the realms of tedious preach-a-thon and places it well within the
bounds of exuberant and relevant community theatre: It's soundtrack. Which
is performed from stage-right by IDA and DMC scratch champion DJ Rasp,
the St-Helens based artist who is renowned internationally (having been
a finalist or winner in many DJing competitions) and locally (through
countless Liverpool residencies). His input is essential to the incessant
pace upon which the entire show is predicated. The primary genre is predictably
and appropriately hip-hop with occasional dalliances with dubstep, plus
tracks by The Beatles, Nancy Sinatra, a remix of All That Jazz and one
particular show-stopper in which he beat-juggles with Daft Punk.
The weak points? At about 20 minutes and again at 40 minutes in the pace
lapsed – I couldn't say if the scenes were too long or if the actors
were having a breather but it happened. However within a minute or two
the rollercoaster was off again.
But to mention what is good or what is bad about the play is to miss
what is my favourite thing about it: what the play is not.
This is a play for young people that doesn't patronize, stereotype or
preach to them.
It's not lame.
The show is free but it would be appreciated if audiences could book
their attendance in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org
For future shows and info email email@example.com or check
Comment left by Richard Wilkie-Riley on 1st September, 2011 at 14:28
Video link to the song which accompanies the show (contains swearing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaNT85f5wHI