Screen 9 4* (Edinburgh Fringe Review)
Piccolo Theatre and The Pleasance
Pleasance at EICC
At the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado in 2012, a gunman opened fire into the audience of a crowded cinema, killing 12 and wounding 70 innocent Batman fans. Screen 9 is a raw piece of verbatim theatre following the stories of four survivors as they attempt to come to terms with the horrendous event.
"Screen 9 is a raw piece of verbatim theatre following the stories of four survivors as they attempt to come to terms with the horrendous event."
Walking into the space, which is disconcertingly set up as a cinema, the audience is offered popcorn – an eerily harmless symbol of the tragedy that will imminently unfold. The four actors then begin to relate their stories, their days leading up to the shooting, and why they were at that particular screening – we watch as they question their decisions with the bitter taste of hindsight.
As we arrive at the event itself, we were braced for loud noises, screams, dramatic music, etc. but nothing comes. Instead, the actors sit among us describing what they felt, saw, heard, and touched at that moment. This, accompanied by the faint glow of a cinema screen and deathly silence was a brutally poignant moment. There might not have been immediate and dramatic lighting and sound but the lack of these had a far greater impact. This was just one example of superb direction from Kate Burton.
"This, accompanied by the faint glow of a cinema screen and deathly silence was a brutally poignant moment."
This was a very pure piece of theatre, exposing the actors, but there was no weak link. Each brought such raw talent to the table, drawing us into their lives and their struggles post-tragedy.
The portrayal of the event itself was a masterpiece of verbatim theatre. After this, the survivors enter into the controversial but crucial discussion about gun control. This section feels a little half-hearted after such powerful moments. The quartet seem to conclude that 'it’s complicated' and move on, which appears a feeble effort considering the trauma endured by these survivors. An hour fringe slot is not enough time to do this topic justice, but the surface was barely scratched.
Overall though, Screen 9 is a beautiful portrayal of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, asking what really happens when fear grips you and focusing on the victims rather than the perpetrator.