Director: Anna Marsland
Writer: Alex Packer
Reviewer: James Napleton
Ballistic tells the story of Elliot Rodger and despite the tragic events surrounding the 22-year-old mass murderer it reveals a funny, touching and intimate story. The show is based on the killer’s ‘manifesto’, an autobiographical document emailed to family members and friends before the killings. Built around this impulse for autobiography the performance shows performer Mark Conway detailing his life to the audience.
The inventiveness of Alex Packer’s script lies partly in structure, by starting in the killer’s youth the story unfolds slowly beginning as a comic and warm story of a clever boy struggling to fit in. Conway captures this comedy well with a rapid and charged energy enriching the isolated inner world. The intensity is constant throughout the show and this is tempered by the balance and skill of the script, direction and performance.
It is fitting that Ballistic is a solo show as Rodger’s growing social isolation and dissonance from regular society is matched by Conway’s loneliness on the stage. So, when exchanges are shown with other characters, despite the diverting and adept performance, they ultimately appear invisible as ghosts unable to break the cycle of loneliness.
The set consists of stacks of square lights, that occasionally bursting into a mirage of light, or hold a single bold colour the lights enhance moments of tension, complexity and emotion in the narrative.
Similarly to many serial killers, Elliot Rodger appears egocentric and self-aggrandizing, however Ballistic undermines this ‘me against the world’ perception and shows a diverse and human character behind Rodger’s monstrous acts. Overall, Ballistic is an inventive and elegant work of storytelling that offers an accomplished example of the power of theatre.
Runs until 28 August 2017 | Image: Contributed