September 4, 2007

Theater Review - Shot Me Down

Shot Me DownStarring Micah Babcock, Erin Crites, Sara East, Dan Halstead, Joseph Hatfield, Wendy Hames, Eli Keel, Erica McClure, Emily Miller, Zach Nord, Leah Roberts, Jeremy Sapp and Anthony Walker.Directed by Gil D. Reyes. Written by Brian Walker. Presented by Finnigan Productions. Continues through Sept. 8 at the MeX Theater, Kentucky Center. For tickets, call 584-7777.“Bang! Bang! Bang! I shot you. Now, you’re all dead.” So opens “Shot Me Down,” Brian Walker’s latest play, with the words spoken by a 9-year-old brandishing a toy gun and laughing with gleeful abandon before a blackout.Walker then pushes a supposition to the limit. The year is 2011, and an Alzheimer’s cure has led to the recovery of Charlton Heston, who now heads The Powers — “an absolute and self-sufficient world government set at seeing world peace at any cost,” says one character. The eerie opening outburst leads into a world where shooting is as common and justified as it might be during child’s play. Here everyone is required to carry a gun.The plot twists are hilarious and clever, and colorful characters populate fast-paced scenes sprinkled with commentary on Heston films from “The Naked Jungle” through “Earthquake.” There’s Yvonne, played by Erica McClure, whose son is missing and who, after shooting her husband, is harassed by people who question her motives and knowledge of a secret weapon her husband was working on — The Millennium Firearm. Yvonne is under almost unfathomable stress.Under the direction of Gil D. Reyes, almost all of the acting is restrained, which to my chagrin made me empathetic toward some characters. The exception was McClure, whose consistent knitted brow and panicky tone of voice became an exaggerated portrayal that was sometimes distracting. (I only wonder if she was mimicking the acting style of the 1970s disaster movies or the style Heston adopted in many of his films.)Leah Roberts gives the standout performance as Eunid, who wears pearls and supports The Powers but doesn’t like to touch guns. In past performances, Roberts has shown forceful and unrestrained energy, but here she artfully crafts a character whose naiveté veils several surprises.Underlying those myriad surprises are questions about assimilation and governmental control in American society, which “Shot Me Down” leaves for audiences members to answer for themselves.BY ELIZABETH KRAMERekramer@leoweekly.com