Thursday, October 21, 2010

"One Gun" - October 2010

Ian Low's "One Gun" isn't your typical "A Play, A Pie & A Pint" show - it feels very much a 'proper' play. And I really don't mean that as a criticism of the usual output at Oran Mor. It's just that as they tend to be written with a lunchtime audience in mind, even those dealing with heavier issues are balanced with witty repartee. But Low's play is unashamedly serious in tone and would sit just as comfortably in an evening timeslot in any studio theatre up and down the country.

In a small town on the East coast of Scotland, a teenage boy has been fatally shot. His mother, Cardean (Jenni Keenan Green) finds herself reluctantly involved in a process to determine how the gun should be destroyed. She is assisted by Donald (Robin Laing), a UN Weapons Decommissioning observer and artist Gwen (Louise Ludgate) who has been commissioned to transform the decommissioned weapon into a memorial.

While Cardean deals with her grief, both Donald and Gwen have their own demons to face. With so many elements and a 50 minute run time, the narrative does feel as if it has an ingredient or two too many - particularly when contrasted with Low's decision to leave the details of the boy's death undisclosed. In itself, I didn't mind not having that piece of information, but it did mean that for much of the play I was expecting it to be a final reveal. The cast all give strong performances with Laing being particularly impressive as the outwardly assured Donald undergoing his own internal crisis. The projected backdrops worked surprisingly well at creating a sense of place and the soundtrack was wonderfully emotive.

But although this made for engaging theatre, I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to take from it. The most obvious target would appear to be artist Gwen and an industry that feeds on the grief of others, but Low's treatment of the character is rather sympathetic - perhaps aware of the tendency of writers to do the same. In the end, Low might not have hit the heights he was aiming for, but he deserves a huge amount of praise for his ambition, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of his work.

One Gun runs at Oran Mor until Saturday 23rd October
Image by Leslie Black Photography used with permission.