In a darkened room surrounded by blinking lights a young angry man tells us his life story, from childhood through teen years to the miseries of universities we see what the struggles of trying to be to be a man in the 21st century are, and the horrible consequences the weight of that pressure can cause.
A wonderfully powerful show
Mini mall theatre company's latest play Ballistic deals with what is safe to say a controversial and timely topic, mass shooting committed by disgruntled, alienated and angry young men. Yet rather than follow the usual path of focusing on the survivors and the aftermath of such a tragedy the play focuses in on the mind of the shooter himself and examines what could possibly motivate someone to commit such a crime. A risky topic, but one that the company deals with in an immensely engaging and intelligent way that makes for an enthralling, if disturbing, watch.
Co-director Alex Packer's script does not pull any punches, diving straight into the mindset of the shooter it eschews the typical tropes of depicting him as a cold uncaring monster but rather as a product of his environment, whose misogyny and need to prove his manhood evolving in front of our eyes as a distorted mirror of what his friends, family, classmates and cultures teach him a man should be. It is a superbly intelligent script that deftly mixed black comedy with horribly disturbing moments that leave the audience laughing at one moment then silent with horror at the next.
Such a script could leave its performer behind it but there is no fear of that with Mark Conway in the main role, who gives an astounding performance worthy of much praise. He holds the audience’s attention at every moment and imbues his character with a striking vulnerability and loneliness that makes you, at point, feel sympathy for him despite the horrible crimes he commits.
The tech and sound also add to the mood and atmosphere of the piece, with large flashing tetris-style blocks at the back of the stage creating beautiful lighting states and the sound subtly helping shape the scene as the story progresses and giving each moment a strong sense of place and time.
This truly is a wonderfully powerful show and during its final moments you will feel your stomach twist and turn into knots as the awful events bubbling under the surface finally break through and come to fruition. This, I am sure, was the intention and hats off to the production team for delivering an astoundingly timely piece that will leave you playing it over for weeks after it is finished.