Ballistic (3 stars)

This article is from 2017


A young man on a journey towards mass murder

Beginning with a funny and detailed description of the protagonist's early experiments with masturbation, Alex Packer's terse script considers an individual case of radicalisation: a young man, failing in romance and sex, but enjoying on-line gaming, discovers Men's Right Activism and goes on a shooting spree. What begins as a naturalistic monologue devolves into a series of performance poems, pulling back from precise description to an allusive climax.

Mark Conway's energetic performance is ill-served by this transition. The script excels in the details of growing up and even the unpleasant public shaming that triggers the rampage: the switch to doggerel, all rhymes and references, destroys the mode and pictures the radicalisation as a montage. It fails to make the argument that online gaming leads to violence, or convincingly depict the seduction of a romantic young man into a misogynist killer. The description of the shooting is flat and the carefully wrought characterisation is replaced by a simplistic caricature of a thug.

The influence of Philip Ridley is writ large in the script and, in the first half an hour, shares Ridley's terse yet emphatic attention to telling details – the scenes of family break up are movingly expressed. The climax is a weak retort, for all its ugly language and brutal imagery.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug, 2.15pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10).


  • 3 stars

Mini Mall Theatre He tries his best with girls. He tries his best with mates. But for all his efforts, things just don't seem to be going right. So he's making a change. Something's triggered him to stand up for himself. He's got a new plan, and he's going to reassert his worth. But does he have the balls to go through…