Imagine buying a gun… Imagine that, right? I mean it is a pretty standard thought. Also imagine you have a job that is crushing your soul, and your boss is also the father of the girl you currently live with. Then the girlfriend does not approve of said gun, and in your desperation to get rid of it you end up sharing it with 10 people. Now imagine if you are writing a play about it. A play in which you are going to perform the story of what the guy that got the gun did with it. And both stories are being told simultaneously, because without one we do not find out about the other. Pretty ambitious, right?
Well that’s what “Ten Ways On A Gun” is. Written by Dylan Lamb, the play revolves around a group of desperate thespians putting a play about the tragedy of Tommy Freely and in the process make a commentary about gun culture in America. Which is somehow what the actual play is about. Now adding to that layer is the obsession the playwright Jessica Pearson has to tell this story, beyond anything, to have the play that will give her a name. Barely caring about the people around her and those that had to live it. By doing this Lamb sets himself to make a statement about both the Second Amendment and the twisted way the media obtains their stories. In both circumstances, the play falls short and in a way misses its own point, but what happenstance that is.
The play is not about our country’s problem with guns. Neither is it about the terrible way peoples’ greed makes them forget about basic humanity. The play is about control. It’s about the lack of it and the way a gun gives you that false sense of courage. How having power over how the story will be told makes you forget to stay honest. But more importantly, it is about how powerless people should not be given a tool that requires a high level of control. So it is not merely about social problems, it is about something far deeper. The human condition.
Dylan Lamb’s dialogue is a joy to hear. Realistic, powerful and exciting, his writing has a way of making you laugh and make you feel guilty about it. The ensemble of the piece had ease with the author’s words. Lamb himself plays Tommy Freely, and his last scene will send chills down your spine. The rest of the cast was dynamic, with Timothy Condon, Nathaniel Kent, and Laura Darrell being the stand-outs in a great ensemble. The set design by Kathryn Lieber gave the show its heart, and director Kathryn McConell did a great job exposing its soul. But at the end, this is Dylan Lamb’s show, and it will be a name I remember.
The show is playing in the Theater For The New City facilities until October 25th. People often complain that when they go see new shows in off-off broadways venues, they end up watching a mediocre play that puts them off theater. In my experience, this year alone, I’ve seen new work that is not only great, but ones that demand bigger audiences with its excellence. “Ten Ways On A Gun” is not perfect, it doesn’t even reach the plateaus of other new works I’ve seen… but it is good. Very, very good. And it deserves your attention.
Out of four stars:
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Twisted Talk: Have you seen Ten Ways On A Gun? What were your thoughts on it? Discuss below!