Louise Orwin A Girl and a Gun- a Norwich Eye review



A man walks into a theatre. He has five minutes to prepare for a show that he knows nothing about and has never seen. As we take our seats he stands next to her on the stage. They are driving down a long, straight road. He steers. That’s Him. All he has to guide him is an autocue. And the other performer. Her.

Her show.

Like much of the most exciting recent theatre, this performance starts with a bold and original construct. A show about Him and Her, where he knows nothing, she knows everything – maybe – and they both take their script from an autocue, which is perhaps directing the audience too.

The original notion came from the Jean-Luc Godard quotation “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun’. Louise started to ponder what it was about this coupling that was so attractive, and she wondered whether Godard was right.

Film and film conventions dominate the performance, often hilariously inverted.

Conventions in films are so often a simple binary like a girl and a gun. Love and death. Red and white. Flesh and bone. Romance and reality. Guns and sex. Pairs of ideas that we are so often served as contrasts, graphic pairs to draw the eye and drive the imagination.

This performance is all about these contrasts. Provocative yet demure. Tender, violent. Male and female. Control and obedience. Desire, yet disdain. Love and deaths.

The show is written and performed by Louise Orwin. By Her. In taking some of the more disturbing conventions of the woman’s role in Southern American life Louise and re-using them she turns the table on male presumption, aggression and domination, with a stage companion who really does have no idea what is coming next – who is completely under a control which one way or another is usually hers.

As with other bold new approaches to theatre this is a hard show to find comparisons with. It has something to say, but is not a polemic, rather a huge mirror getting us to look back at ourselves, at the way we treat each other, use and abuse, love and kill. And at the conventions we demand from our filmmakers.

This is personal, intimate theatre that is just right for the Norwich Arts Centre space. There is nowhere to hide, for performer or viewer. Not that you would want to, there is not a minute of this performance that is less than engaging, and amidst some fairly grave events the show has a lot of humour, and tonight’s audience were clearly delighted as well as moved.

We are never told who the hapless male performer is. There are rumours that he is a reviewer. He writes about other people’s performances, but now is on stage himself. Nowhere to hide.

He acquitted himself well in what would have been a demanding role for a rehearsed actor, although the physical performance of the show is dominated by Louise, in great style and with an intense energy. Her autocue script even allows her to prompt the audience to speculate on her actions and motives on stage and in making the show, but this device is used sparingly and effectively. Louise builds a show stage by stage to an unexpected climax. What appears initially to be a series of vignettes is edited together to produce a complete narrative, just as the film editor cuts the movie.

She clearly enjoys working on stage with ‘Him’, with a little bit of live on-stage direction reflecting the dilemma the show wants us to discuss.

I am told that he wants to see it now, with another performer taking the one night stand. And I reckon he probably wants to be a bloody actor now too! That is the measure of how engaging this show is.

Louise takes her show to Exeter, Bristol, Preston, London, and Leeds in the next few weeks. My advice is to see it if you possibly can. A memorable show, and you may even be part of it!


‘A Girl And A Gun’ was commissioned by Contact Theatre (Manchester) and MC Theatre (Amsterdam) as part of their prestigious Flying Solo Festival.

For more information: http://louiseorwin.com

Written, Conceived & Performed by Louise Orwin
Produced by Jen Smethurst
Norwich Eye saw ‘A girl and a Gun’ at Norwich Arts Centre on 5th October 2016   Read more in our previous article here: https://norwicheye.co.uk/whats-on/a-girl-a-gun-louise-orwin/

©Julian Swainson