SALT LAKE CITY — Bang Bang You’re Dead, performed by (De)caf Acting Company, is an intense show about a school shooting written 20 years ago by William Mastrosimone even before the Columbine high school shooting. I was amazed at how accurate to current events this show seemed.
The story follows Josh (played by Luke Jensen) right after he has killed his parents and five of his schoolmates as he is forced to reenact the gruesome scene with the reasons why. The ghosts spur him along, getting deeper and deeper into his conscious until finally he screams about the horrors of high school. It is clear that what looks, on the outside, like harmless banter between teenagers can often be so hurtful that it leads to violence. There is no excuse given for any of the guilty, but there is an understanding.
Director Mitch-Allen Johnson provided a significantly powerful experience by having the dead characters use flashlights on their faces in the dark to emphasize the loss of mortality. He also had them fall down in multiple moments, adding to the intensity and chaos of this piece. I thought the way he had Shadow (played by Eleanor Young) move in a jerking, unnerving fashion was a great way display how unstable and violent she was. I also loved the emphasis it gave to seeing Jensen change from just being himself to dealing with a greater threat to his psyche.
Despite being a difficult topic to watch, I greatly enjoyed the quality of this performance, the acting, and the issues it brought to light. I wish this sort of topic didn’t need to be shared, but after seeing this I think it is one of the more important shows here at The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival.