Creator: Phil Croft
Reviewer: Simon Topping
Hope Springs is laid out before us; a cactus, some tiny saloon doors and a wide painted American vista, fabulously created by Phil Croft, tell the audience we are in the wild west now, cowboy country.
As the lights go up on stage Rosco “Black Jack” Porter, a washed up, rough and tumble outlaw sets the scene. “If your’e gonna kill a man, better make sure you do it properly…First rule of a murder’. Let the caper begin.
What follows is a captivating hour of one man storytelling by William Hartley. Hartley, one-quarter of anarchic sketch group Clever Peter, is a very accomplished actor and writer and brings all of his experience and comedy chops to the role. Inhabiting many characters on stage seems to come with ease, masking the skill and preparation that is obviously needed to carry out such a consummate performance.
As the play goes on there are many highlights including an inanimate barman, a tense gunfight with the wonderful use of playing cards, a delightful female assassin and a seduction and love scene that will be burned into retinas of the audience for a long time to come. There’s no going back now!
The simplicity of the plot allows the multiple characters to shine within the piece and the pacing and mood shifts well allowing the audience to breathe where it needs to and slowly become engrossed in the drama and silliness of it all.
With a funny, warm and self-assured performance at the centre of tightly constructed timeless Western story Gun is definitely a show all vagabonds and gunslingers should go and set their peepers on this Fringe.
Runs 2 and 3 June 2018