An intriguing premise then, but Chris Leicester’s Charlie Bangers does not explore the full potential of the story.
The title refers to thunderstorm clouds, implying a more cumulative dramatic effect than happens. The end of the play has drama, but is so unconvincingly built-up that it is almost comically clichéd.
The whole piece is confused and lacking coherence, the directing and playing multiple characters is unclear and disjointed most of the time which never allows it to establish itself. Ultimately, the changes of scene are too frequent (and the pauses too long) so that when the interval arrives with no climax, the audience don’t seem to realise there is no applause.
Characterisation is a big problem. Adrian’s personality and motivation are unclear – he can’t effectively explain himself (and the audience never sees) so it is difficult to believe him or feel sympathy. With this lack of proof the ensuing media frenzy would not happen.
Former journalist - Dominic (Adam Paul Harvey) brings the story to the media’s attention but it is hard to pinpoint what he is trying to achieve. Described as “a money-crazed businessman”, he seems more passionate about the intellectual debate about religion and freedom of speech.
As the priest trying to intervene, Paul Lavers has good stage presence and a palpable fear for what Adrian’s story could mean for religious belief. He seems the most effectively portrayed character, though is some way from being fully developed.
Subplots involving Adrian’s father and a mother and child are both treated cursorily and are explained too late, making it hard for the audience to care about them.
There are some interesting ideas and challenging themes in Chris Leicester’s script but they are treated superficially. Charlie Bangers is confusing, with weak characterisation, often lacklustre performances and an ending and subplots which detract from the whole piece.
- Laura Maley