The Gun Show

A thoughtful and well-realised production, this play provides a personal perspective on the debate surrounding American gun ownership. Staged in the gloomy basement auditorium of Space Triplex, The Gun Show is not to be confused with Gun Show, a devised production taking place across the road at Greenside’s Nicolson Square venue.

Beautifully executed, moving and occasionally funny

Skillfully directed by Shawn Lee, the performance explores gun culture through a monologue recounting the author’s personal experiences. However, five minutes into the show it is revealed that an actor, Vin Shambry, is speaking the words of the author, E. M. Lewis, while she sits in the front row of the audience. The acting is an outstanding masterclass in theatrical storytelling. Shambry demonstrates peerless stage presence as he deftly moves the audience from a cheery sing-along to a poignant, pin-drop silence. The nuanced and moving performance is made more intriguing by the fact that Shambry, a black man, is portraying Lewis, a white woman. This dynamic becomes especially interesting at certain moments throughout the play, such as when the Lewis (via Shambry) discusses being intimidated by armed police.

The show does not delve too deeply into the politics of the issue, and it steers clear of suggesting solutions or adopting an exact position. Instead the playwright laments how the debate has been hijacked by the “flag drapey yahoos” of the National Rifle Association on the one hand, and by “granola-eating hippies” on the other. The nuanced middle ground is overlooked, she complains. This feels like a slightly unsatisfactory cop-out, but the play gets away with it by emphasising that it is a personal story.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the show was the audience response. During the informal post-show discussion many audience members, clearly affected by the issues raised, shared their own experiences of American gun culture and many were visibly tearful. The touching scene testifies to the show’s success in handling such a sensitive political topic - and the emotional impact it can make.

Beautifully executed, moving and occasionally funny, The Gun Show is a performance that is well worth seeing. 

Reviews by Nuri Syed Corser

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

From a farming community in rural Oregon, where everyone has guns, to the big cities of Los Angeles and New York, playwright E M Lewis takes aim at her own relationship with firearms in The Gun Show. Former Broadway actor Vin Shambry shares Ms Lewis’s unique perspective and true stories about America’s most dangerous pastime as if they were his own, with brutal honesty and poignant humor. Leaning neither right nor left, The Gun Show jumps into the middle of the gun control debate, and asks 'can we have a conversation about this?'

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