Though I thought I’d walked into the Hepburn Teaching Theater, I quickly found reality to be a slippery concept; I had actually stepped into the strange world of “Bang.” “Bang”, a show by alumnae Charlotte Ford ’02, was a commedia dell’arte show that ran from April 6th to April 8th and then from April 12th to the 14th.
The show began with a cleaning woman vacuuming to the sound of Italian circus music. The office was that of Cat Fancy Magazine and came complete with terracotta carpeting, cubicles, a conference room, fluorescent office lights and a window that peered into the head of the magazine’s office. The cleaning woman stopped in the middle of her work to stuff herself with another employee’s chocolates. As the show progressed, the quirky ensemble of characters grew, each member embodying a different kind of human desire. There was a clean obsessed nerd, a gluttonous diva, a religion fanatic, a hipster alcoholic, a My Little Pony and Pokémon adult toddler, an angry spy, an awkward goody-two-shoes do-gooder, a sex crazed assistant and a fashionista boss. When all the characters were on stage, there was a somewhat normal office rhythm: stapling, coffee drinking, sinking back down into one’s cubicle. Then a meeting was held in the Cat Fancy conference room and things became progressively more insane.
After the do-gooder finished a presentation on how to give a presentation, and the sex fiend assistant made dirty hand puppets on the projection screen, the cleaning woman rushed into the conference room with a radio announcing an apocalypse. Several explosions were heard then followed by the ringing of a doorbell. A pizza delivery boy entered the scene. All of the characters chased him to make him their sacrificial lamb. The religion fanatic shared angry words with her heavenly Father. People gave up all of their desired possessions, ran, yelled, screamed, ripped paper, drew obscenities on the walls and windows, beat one another up, poured cat litter on one another, and continued all of this in such a frenzy until the cleaning obsessed nerd, who poked out from behind her cubicle wearing a cat mask, encouraged everyone to participate in a happy montage of a cat dance party. During the end, a large colorful cat face appeared on the cement wall backdrop; a cross appearing in-between the cat’s eyes as the characters exited to the sound of humming cats.
All of the clowning weirdness of “Bang”, is an exaggerated portrait of human desires and the consequences of giving into the those desires; acquiescing to desire not only creates a potential apocalypse for mankind but makes animals of us all. The show started with its characters expressing their desires somewhat normally, whether their desire was food, cleanliness, divinity, youth, alcohol, sex, or fashion but these desires eventually evolved into chaos and savagery. Though described as a comedy, “Bang” teaches its audience something more about human nature and desire, suggesting that without limits bang will all of us go.