Review: Wrecking Ball at the Birmingham Rep

With its forensic exploration of truth, image and make believe, Wrecking Ball by Action Hero could not be a more timely investigation of some of the more pressing issues facing the international media today.

With Donald Trump’s belief in alternative facts, and truth and facts seemingly changed to suit a meta-narrative, what at one time seemed a hilarious conceit is today the complete opposite.

Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball

In a run-down photography studio, a model or actress is working with a photographer to explore what is happening, right now. He wants more out of her than she is willing to give. The fourth wall is not even built, the audience are part of the drama, their reactions to the actors part of the play, random members are asked to read from the script.

As the photographer the play’s writer, James Stenhouse is all hipster checked shirt and old school photography, and as the model, the subject of his photographs and his ideas about the world, is co-writer Gemma Paintin.

Through the hour long piece, they examine whether or not a photo is just a photo or a piece of propaganda and an examination of something bigger than it appears on the surface. So as the piece changes gear from a discussion about ice cream and bikinis on a beach, it transforms into a discussion about nuclear war, fall-out, victims, death, and whether or not it is really ice cream, or coloured mashed potato.

Although the dialogue is slight, the characterisation is strong, with both writers adding their own interpretation of a world where more people are willing to believe things on social media than they are too believe in sources that have been providing news for hundreds of years.

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