Gun To Your Head
Vault Cavern Leake Street
Dakota is on the run again in Simon Jaggers's ninety-minute coming-of-age play Gun To Your Head. This time she’s on the run with Bede (Abdul Jalloh). She says it’s because they stole something from a KFC, though Bede isn’t sure that’s a good reason. He even secretly phones home to let his family know he’s okay.
Meanwhile, they are holed up in an abandoned quarry, which has an electric fire they can use to light a spliff. There’s also lots of space to run around, play games and ask each other questions beginning with the phrase “gun to your head” followed by such lines as “what’s the greatest story” and what’s the “greatest film” To that last one the pair simultaneously reply "Pulp Fiction."
Films form a key part of their conversation, though only as far as naming them rather than giving reasons for liking them. The concluding scene of Thelma and Louise has a particular fascination for Dakota (Shakira Ridell-Morales).
Films aren’t the only text they reference. The novel Of Mice and Men becomes a key plot undercurrent with a mouse being killed and a bit of the text being recited before the sound of a gunshot and Bede pretending to fall down dead.
Adding to the atmosphere are the occasional clips from Nirvana and other bands singing about teenage angst.
The text is thoughtful and compassionate towards its characters and is at times amusing. The actors are lively, engaging and believable, though the terrible acoustics of the cavern can make hearing them occasionally an issue.
The major difficulty with this play is that it gives us little more than the noise of teenage angst. There is no dramatic tension, little plot, no character development and no social context that might explain their unhappiness.
We are simply left with two characters riffing on their favourite bits of pop culture, which, along with the much repeated injunction of “gun to your head”, can be a little wearing.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna