‘Screen 9’ (Piccolo Theatre/The Pleasance) | Review By Lewis C. Baird

‘Screen 9’ from Piccolo Theatre in association with Survivors Empowered, is a powerful piece of verbatim theatre which explores the horrific shooting during the Colorado premiere of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in 2012. This production is currently playing The Pleasance at the EICC on and off until 29th August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. 

The four members of cast involved in this production deliver truly breathtaking and devastating performances. Sabrina Wu as Katy, delivers a mentally scarred young woman who has been devastated by loss and violence. David Austin-Barnes as Alex portrays the desperation, pain and also ambition that comes with witnessing a horrific attack. George Rexstrew as Jonny gives an honest portrayal of survival, also tackling Jonny’s perspective with such realism and passion. Hannah Schunk-Hockings’ portrayal of Mary is one which truly devastates the audience, with the pain and also hope through Mary’s heart aching journey. 

Kate Barton directs and writes this production. Kate’s direction immerses the audience in the setting of the Colorado cinema back in 2012. As a British audience, we find it hard to feel in danger while sitting in such an innocent setting, however, Kate placing the performers in the audience while describing how the events unfolded, removes all security. The audience feel on edge as if they are re-living those moments with the characters. This blocking from the director is ingenious, as it is harrowing for us to imagine such an environment turning hostile. Matthew Jennings’ set design amplifies the cinema setting with a screen showing the time with a blurred-out version of the movie, also a popcorn machine is placed on stage which fills the auditorium with the familiar cinema smell, it even pierces through our masks. Kate’s script is stunningly pieced together, the pacing is perfect, with the dialogue edited in such a creative and engaging way. Impactful moments of silence are featured which gives the audience time for reflection and even mourn the people that lost their lives during the shooting.  

This new production is one which could be compared to verbatim works such as ‘The Laramie Project’ or ‘Come From Away’, for its profound capturing of the events featured, while also taking ingenious creative license to translate the story in a way which engages audiences of all backgrounds. ‘Screen 9’ might just be the highlight of the fringe, purely due to the cast’s stellar performances and Kate Barton’s ingenious direction and stunningly written, devastating script. The events featured raise important questions while also sharing the experiences of the people who faced this horrific event. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Get your tickets for ‘Screen 9’ below: 

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/screen-9-1

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