Bang! Pow! Crash! Like a well-choreographed fight scene in a high-budget superhero movie, Kat Sandler’s play Bang Bang swirls with tension that builds and builds into sudden, startling violence - a slap, a slammed door, a punch to the jaw. It’s a vigorous, muscular play that skillfully plots out a collision course between people who all, with the best of intentions, believe that their claim to tell a story is the right and proper one, and if the play asks more questions than it can answer, well, I’m not sure that it’s the purpose of this play to provide answers. Bang Bang is unsettling, intense, and very, very funny. It will carry you along and if, at the end, you are still perplexed as to what it all means, then the playwright has done her job. When I asked her what she hoped audiences will take away from this production, Sandler told me that what she always wants is for people to have to think about something, to have their views challenged while at the same time being thoroughly entertained. It’s a challenging push-and-pull to achieve, but I think Bang Bang nails it.
Bang Bang begins with Lila (Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah), ground zero of The Incident. Everything ripples outward from her actions. A rookie cop, the Black daughter of another Black police officer, Lila shoots an unarmed Black teenager after mistaking him for a felon with a gun. The teen survives and makes a full recovery (such a refreshing change from the fictional bodies that pile up in over-earnest misery porn), but there’s an uproar that leads to Lila’s public shaming and eventual resignation from the force. When the play opens she is mired in a deep depression, forgoing meals for beer and cigarettes and sloppily attired in baggy sweats. She is in sharp contrast to her mother Karen (veteran Karen Robinson, whose gravitas serves her well here). Karen, a psychologist, is immaculately dressed and her tastefully decorated home becomes the unlikely battleground of the play.Read More