Performer Chuma Gault is at the top of his form in The Gun Show, a play by EM Lewis that deals with Americans and their guns. An unpredictable work that stealthily gathers steam, it begins with a discourse on the national gun debate and gradually evolves into a personal account of tragedy and loss. The intimacy of the venue, a tiny theater on Hyperion Avenue, underscores the piece’s dramatic intensity.
Gault appears before the audience on designer Aaron Francis’ spare set: a podium with a loose-leaf binder that contains a script, to which the performer occasionally refers. The walls behind him are gray and marked with splotches of red.
The show is an autobiographical first-person narrative and unusual in that the writer, EM Lewis, is a woman — her narrative references her courtship and marriage — while the performer is a man.
The gender switch isn’t explained, although early on it's noted that Lewis isn’t performing because she’s too much of a coward and not enough of an actor.
Of course, much of the narrative is gender neutral. The writer grew up on a farm in southern Oregon where guns were commonplace and practical instruments and where the nearest law enforcement was an hour away. She practiced sharpshooting under the tutelage of her fiancé — an intimate and sensuous experience.
But a subsequent series of events tore away her confidence in firearms, and altered her life forever.
Directed by Darin Anthony, Gault’s charisma carries him beyond the fourth wall to draw his listeners in. The drama’s life-changing moments evoke a here-and-now immediacy, not easily forgotten.
Moving Arts – Hyperion Station, 1822 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; through December 14. (323) 472-5646, movingarts.org.
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