Big Shot pulls no punches in delivery of powerful theatre

For those of us who aren’t actors, the thought of being onstage – never mind being the only one on stage – is pretty much unimaginable.

Solo performances are certainly a magnificent feat to behold, as is Jon Lachlan Stewart’s riveting portrayal of several characters in Big Shot, currently being staged at Nickle Studio at the Memorial Centre. Ignition Theatre has brought Lachlan Stewart’s show in for a brief run, finishing up with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

Until then, evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

Lachlan Stewart wrote the play and is absolutely terrific all the way through as he seamlessly nails the personalities of several characters.

The story follows a 12-year-old Vancouver boy who loves action films, but when he witnesses a murder on the Skytrain, he realizes the ‘live’ experience is more thrilling. Big Shot follows his ‘pitch’ to the audience of the tragedy as the ‘greatest action sequence’ ever.

It’s a gritty, compelling story from the moment Lachlan Stewart first hits the stage as the boy – thoroughly convincing in adolescent voice and facial expression. We then are introduced to a recovering heroin addict, Killiger, who is truly at the heart of the story. As this character, Lachlan Stewart is perhaps at his most impressive. Every troubling nuance of someone fighting to extricate themselves from the grip of a drug-plagued lifestyle surfaces in his performance.

As the story unfolds, Killiger comes between a police officer and a 70-year-old Japanese pickpocket by the name of Odosung on the Skytrain. On one side, the officer is demanding to see Killiger’s train ticket while Odosung ramps up the tension considerably by accusing Killiger of trying to sell drugs prior to getting on the train. Killiger is now starting to lose it and things escalate from there – to the climax of the piece which I will leave for audiences to discover.

What makes Big Shot such a smashing success is primarily Lachlan Stewart’s amazing ability to transform himself into such differing array of characters. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, considering he doesn’t have an abundance of time to do it. There is also never a moment that hangs awkwardly as the story bolts ahead. It simply doesn’t slow for a second. Lachlan Stewart injects each and every moment with an unbelievable physical and emotional energy.

This enhances the story at every turn.

We understand the boy. We understand the pain and frustration of Killiger. And we understand the Japanese man after we learn about traumatic pieces of his past. The police officer is also brought to life as he shares about his past. Again, Lachlan Stewart’s ability to paint such vivid pictures of these people testifies to not only his acting prowess but also his skill as playwright.

Ultimately, Big Shot reminds us that there are a multitude of stories behind the ‘story’ we may see playing out in front of us. We don’t know the scale of suffering and painful experience that may be behind why someone reacts as they do. Neither do we know what fuels a person’s heartbreak, apparent sense of fear or despair for that matter.

Congratulations to Lachlan Stewart for writing a story that is moving, powerful and bubbling over with such raw, dramatic power. He’s a natural and clearly very gifted actor with much to offer. Big Shot, with its range of emotions from starkly troubling to entertaining, is certainly one of those rare ‘must-see’ performances. It’s not just theatre – it’s an insightful exploration of human behaviour and the elements that can influence it for better or worse.

Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for students and seniors. They are available by calling Ignition Theatre at 403-341-6500 or by going online at

Meanwhile, rounding out the year is what has become a traditional local holiday favourite – It’s a Wonderful Life: The Live Radio Drama. It runs Dec. 15-18 at City Centre Stage.

Looking into 2012, highlights include Reasons to Be Pretty in February, Divide (written and directed by Joel Crichton) in March and Corpus Christi in June.