Writer & Director: Kate Barton
When you walk into the cinema style auditorium at EICC you’re offered free popcorn to take to your seat. While you wait for the play to start, a screen above the stage reminds you to turn off your phone and enjoy the movie. It could almost feel like a normal trip to the cinema, just as it did for the people who attended the Colorado premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012.
Over the next hour, the verbatim script follows four of the people who attended that night, taking them from buying their tickets and planning their evening, through the shooting that took 13 lives, and ending with their different responses to the tragedy and how it continues to affect their lives.
Writer and director Kate Barton has made consistently intelligent choices in the extracts of interviews she uses and in the way they are presented. By starting with all the details of getting tickets, deciding whether or not to go, and who to go with, she places the people who went to the screening at the heart of the play. Hazing and video footage of unrecognisable heads in an unlit cinema give the sense of confusion as the shooting started. The four cast members sitting in different parts of the auditorium talking about what they knew and what they were doing as events unfolded adds a further layer of impact to the vivid details of their words.
One of the most interesting sections of the play comes when the four people talk about gun control in the US. The reactions are perhaps not entirely what is expected from survivors of a mass shooting, with one of the four still actively promoting the right to bare arms and seeing it as something that could have averted the tragedy rather than being at the heart of it. It may be because they were the only one who did not lose a loved one, but it still provides a fascinating insight into the American psyche and the extent to which gun ownership is deeply embedded in the culture of the country.
The different ways the four have dealt with the shooting in the years since it happened rounds off the show alongside a roll call of the dead to complete an excellent show that goes behind the headlines and sensationalism that normally dominate retellings of the story.
Reviewed on 26 August 2021, running from 10 to 29 August 2021 | Image: Contributed