Thursday 8th September 2022 at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, London.
Reviewer: Tina Zucco
Flashbang is a play that celebrates life. A show that entertains and touches the audience from beginning to end.
I had heard a lot about Proforça Theatre, so I was very excited to catch this four-hander at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre. I walked in there with high expectations, which the cast and crew successfully met by delivering their engaging new work: Flashbang, written by James Lewis and directed by David Brady.
The play begins with four friends telling us their stories, and introducing each other to the audience. Ryan (Sam Kacher), Jason (Emmanuel Olusanya), Andy (Henry Brackenridge), and Deano (Fred Wardale) are not the kind of people that leave their hometowns in search of happiness in the big city.
They live in a small town, where everyone knows everybody, where every week is the usual work, pub, repeat routine, and they love it. It’s a safe place where nothing ever happens… until, the unimaginable does happen, and everything changes for them.
The audience is also soon introduced to a fifth member of the “gang”, Mickey, who, by not being there on stage with the rest of them, sparks a series of questions that will be answered by the actors in a narrative style. Throughout a series of different scenarios among which are a fun night-club scene, and an intriguing new year’s eve party, we really get to know all five of these lads, who “never go out, but only go out-out”.
About halfway through the performance comes the moment we were waiting for: the revelation moment, when we’ll finally figure out what happened to Mickey to separate him from his best mates. But before giving it away, the script surprises us with a revelation before the revelation, which will keep the entire audience on the edge of their seats for the rest of the play.
There’s a lot to love about Flashbang, first and foremost something that at times goes unnoticed in plays is the clever production design and tech, created in-house by the director David Brady. The choice of music, sound effects, and light changes really helps the audience get drawn into the story-telling piece, while still keeping a very clean and spacious stage for the actors to use as a blank page where they get to write this story, chapter after chapter.
Striking also were the consistently great performances from all four actors, who at all times, were deeply immersed in the moment, listening to each other, reacting to each other, and really truly feeling what was happening to them and how the events described were changing them forever.
Besides beautiful ensemble moments, there is also a very touching and vulnerable monologue that explores the importance of friends and a support system when you’re feeling like you’re about to reach rock bottom. It sparks hope that whatever happens, with time and help, we will all be ok, and Henry Brackenridge delivers it beautifully and truthfully.
Although the moment is perhaps one of the highlights of Flashbang and showcases Brackenridge’s acting range, the pace of the play slows down quite drastically when going from a snappy ping-pong-like narrative style to a one-man spotlight moment. The length of the play also felt a bit long considering that this 80 minute piece didn’t have an interval and made me wonder that perhaps we wait a bit too long before the revelation scene we were waiting for since the beginning.
Nonetheless, Flashbang is a play I would recommend, as it truly engages the audience with good writing, and amazing acting. Proforca Theatre is able to bring a dramatic twist while fully celebrating the charm of small-town life-long friendships.
Flashbang is directed by David Brady and plays The Lion and Unicorn Theatre until the 17th of September, 2022 – you can find more information and tickets here.