About Bang Bang Bang

Monday 24th October 2011

Bang Bang Bang. Photo: John Haynes
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One of the things that new writing does so well is tell us stories we’d rather not know. Stella Feehily’s Bang Bang Bang (currently at the Royal Court in an excellent Out of Joint production) revisits the Democratic Republic of Congo and gives a powerful and compelling account of two female human-rights workers who are investigating war crimes. On one level, the play deals with similar issues to the equally watchable The Faith Machine, by Alexi Kaye Campbell, especially the conflict between pragmatists and idealists — a tension that feels extremely topical at the moment. On another level, Bang Bang Bang is the latest in a long line of plays about the unhappy relationship between the West and Africa. What I like most about the piece is Feehily’s mixture of emotional truth and abrasive humour. That, and her self-reflexiveness: at one point, an Irish guy asks, “You don’t hear much about the Congo now. Has the situation improved at all?” The answer, of course, is that it hasn’t, and plays such as this help us to realise that.

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