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Above: Blazey Best.

Below: Caroline Brazier.

Photos: Danielle Lyons © 2010

Bang, by Jonathan Gavin

B Sharp & White Box | Belvoir Street Theatre, Surry Hills, Sydney | Until 4 July

A concise title ... a complex issue.

Jonathan Gavin’s Bang focuses on the antecedents and consequences of a terrorist act at a suburban Australian railway station. Actors take on several characters as the story unfolds — the brother and sister, and their mother’s story; the pregnant woman and her protective husband; the drag queen; the railway employee; the nun and her brother.

A diverse group united by appalling, senseless violence. Those who survive are left to cope and move on from its aftermath.

Director Kim Hardwick has selected a strong and committed cast. Challenged by multiple, rapidly changing roles, they were cohesive and convincing.

When characters were interacting, energy was high and the pace crackled along. The growing divide between parents (Damian Rice and Caroline Brazier) coping with the death of their unborn child was heartbreaking and harrowing to witness. The tension surrounding the emerging extremist views of Wendy Strehlow’s Sister Rosalie built effectively to a dreadful culmination of grief, fear and anger.

But many of the fourth-wall-breaking expositions abruptly cut the connection. This may have been the intention, but from a viewer’s perspective, it made it difficult to maintain engagement.

Some careful editing could have also cut down some extraneous material — such as the drawn-out debate over Tricksy’s suitcase — and condensed Bang to a single act with no interval.

The tension around the suicide bomb in the station was building beautifully, and to be cast out into the foyer at that point was anticlimactic.

Bang has much to offer, and much to say about the more brutal realities of our world, especially post 9-11. With saying much, however, comes the danger of diluting or confounding the message.

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