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Shotgunned written and directed by Matt Anderson

Written and directed by Matt Anderson, Shotgunned is a concise two-hander that packs a great deal into one act. The play offers a fresh take on the traditional and well-trodden relationship drama. Here, we open with a breakup rather than a first meeting and over the course of an hour or so we are offered non-linear pieces to puzzle together. It’s an effective formatting choice, which echoes the fact that our memories of certain people and events in our lives are never in a particular order. Some recollections are stronger than others and what might have seemed a minor event or exchange at the time can carry far more weight and impact as it is reflected on years later.

ShotgunnedThe structure of the play allows for a series of short, snappy scenes and while this permits pacy sequences, we often find ourselves yearning for further excavation of both the issues being explored and the characters themselves. Although breathing space is afforded to key moments in the narrative, all too often there is the sense of the play being in somewhat of a rush. While this captures the urgency of new love, it also prevents us from becoming as fully invested in the characters as we should be. Just as we are drawn into their worlds, a blackout deprives us from delving deeper into these individuals and we are onto the next scene.

Brad Follen and Liv Bradley make the best of the material. For much of the play, they are both very watchable, each offering nuanced performances that feel pleasingly naturalistic and relatable. They admirably succeed in capturing the awkwardness of a first meeting followed by the playfulness of a new couple who are still getting to know one another. The actors then seamlessly morph into a pair who are completely comfortable in each other’s company before exhibiting the awkward formalities that come with interactions following a breakup. As unexpectedly reunited former flames who have long since gone their separate ways, the actors depict that sense of love and gratitude that has never been entirely extinguished.

While there are certain moments between the pair that could benefit from more convincing chemistry, we mostly buy into who they are as people and enjoy the banter and the digs they affectionately throw at one another. Despite the relatively heavy themes, there is some nice comedy here and, crucially, it is always character-driven.

Anderson should be commended for approaching a relationship drama from a different perspective, however with so many threads weaving through one act, inevitably not all of them are tied together. That is of course true of life and relationships, but one senses Shotgunned aims at too many targets without hitting any of them with the level of attention they deserve. When the couple experience unexpected grief, for instance, we are gifted such raw and emotive writing and performances that showcase Anderson’s ability as well as that of his cast, but among the many other exchanges throughout the play, it is rendered far too fleeting a story strand.

As an audience, we are expected to move through such an array of different emotions in relatively quick succession. Again, perhaps this is illustrative of life, but it leaves one rather unsure of how they should be feeling as the play reaches its end. An engaging, often enjoyable, yet somewhat uneven production.

3 Star Review

Review by Jonathan Marshall

Shotgunned is Kangaroo Court’s debut production.

Written and directed by Matt Anderson, it tells the story of Dylan and Roz, a couple who unexpectedly fall out of love.

Described as equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, Shotgunned is a deeply relatable and intimate piece of theatre about the people we lose that shape who we become.

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