The Big House Theatre Company’s new home, located on the corner of a residential street in Islington, creates as much intrigue as their previous performance spaces. You get the sense of being privileged to enter a holistic environment where young people have been acquiring life skills, rebuilding their lives and rehearsing intensively for a performance while being vulnerable with one another about their experience of going through the care system.
Bullet Hole Reloaded submerges you into a dark world of gang culture, county lines, drug dealing and sexual abuse which some young people have been enticed into. They are a family, and like most family they fight for love, security and status.
The play zooms in on Bumper, a girl whose mother died recently and has a brother in prison for a drug related crime. Already embroiled in a lifestyle of drug dealing, she takes her gang members to another level at a devastating cost.
powerful and convincing performances
We shift with the action into a prison, crack den, a caravan park on the seaside and a luxury apartment; which I must say felt like a much-needed break from all the other intense scenes happening elsewhere. The scenes which takes place in this room makes us reflect on how the media report gang and drug issues surrounding young people, giving scrutiny to the individuals who investigate and report these findings.
This immersive production navigates the audience from room to room across the two-storey building which are all carefully teched due to the incorporation of live media.
The cast of 16, mainly young adults who have been in care, all gave very powerful and convincing performances. It’s hard to believe that they began working on this project two months ago with the first three weeks dedicated solely to developing life skills. For some it was their debut performance with the company. Regular actor Dymond X who’s played various villains in past productions brought the lighter moments to the play with his character as a womanising surrogate step dad to Bumper and her brother. Shonagh Marie as Bumper, and Phoebe Rain as Tirella gave a very generous performance.
Fight scenes were very impressive, however there were moments when the dialogue got lost due to high emotions.
an urgent play that needs to be seen by young people, youth groups and in schools
Bullet Tongue Reloaded offers no solution to the problems it highlights, therefore maintaining The Big House’s reputation for producing bold and gritty performances. In other words, REALITY, according to young people. This is an urgent play that needs to be seen by young people, youth groups and in schools as there is a strong potential to begin honest conversations through workshops and Forum Theatre.
As you leave The Big House’s site, and you glance back, you can’t help but wonder what other dark worlds lie behind ordinary closed doors.