The title Three in the Back, Two in The Head refers to gunshots in this brilliantly crafted political thriller.
Startling gunshots herald the beginning of the play and it is soon known that Canadian weapons scientist Donald Jackson (Peter Green) has been shot.
All that ensues continues to be edge of your seat, top-notch theatre as the sophisticated script trips back and forth in time and gradually unravels the layers of fact and fiction that lie behind the death of this controversial scientist.
Humanity, science and politics intertwine with intriguing twists and turns.
Michael Allen has excelled in a deft directorial feat that keeps the pace cracking, the maze of the complex plot imminently comprehensible and the audience attention unwavering.
The ensemble cast is breathtaking as each member steps in and out of the action on a stage consisting of two bureaucratic desks and a large US flag backdrop.
Peter Green is outstanding as the idealistic scientist whose ideals crumble under the weight of politics. He is compelling as both the ardent young scientist and then the mature and obsessed man – a scientist without reason.
Roger Newcombe also excels as the CIA operative John Doyle. Newcombe’s performance gives Doyle a complexity that is vital and confronting as he starts out as one kind of man and then reveals hidden agendas in abundance.
Nathaniel Davison brilliantly portrays the perplexed nature of Jackson’s son Paul, a young man who has grown up under the influence of a zealot. His conflicting emotions are palpable and bring a human touch amidst the suspense. Sheila Duncan is excellent as Anna, wife and mother, but the character’s intense emotions are a little jarring when introduced in the midst of such gripping conspiracy.
Michael Baldwin is powerful as the United States General Ed Sparrow, an interesting choice of name for such a potent figure. Under Baldwin’s influence the General is bombastic and believable as he recruits Jackson to design and test the Snowman project. This project, at the heart of the plot, is a scientific military one. Jackson wants to protect nations by projecting shrapnel into space to act as detonators to missiles.
Jackson’s intent to protect rather than attack and the resultant fall-out has never more truly reflected the scientific community’s dilemma when it comes to working with the militia.
As gunshots once again sound forth with finality after an hour and a quarter of brilliant theatre the truth has been revealed and the plot has shifted emphasis from the stage to the audience, cleverly confronting each member to question his or her own moral responsibility when it comes to basic survival.
It would be easy to dismiss this excellent spy thriller as pure fiction, but Canadian writer Jason Sherman was inspired by the life of Gerald Bull, an artillery designer whose work on the Project Babylon "supergun" for the Iraqi government was silenced by “Three in The Back Two in The Head”.
Theatre Company presents
Three in the Back, Two in the Head
by Jason Sherman
Director Michael Allen
Venue: Bakehouse Theatre 255 Angas St Adelaide
Dates: July 9, 10, 11, 15,16,17,18, 22, 23, 24, 25 at 8pm
Tickets: Tickets: $22 Adults - $18 Conc - $15 Fringe Benefits and groups of 10 or more
Bookings: www.bakehousetheatre.com (no booking fees) | 82270505 ($2 booking fee per ticket applies)