Written for The Stage
Like the magic trick it is named after, Rob Drummond’s Bullet Catch is not quite one thing and not quite another. It delicately sits between truth and fiction, playing with the intangibility of magic and human connection.
We begin with Drummond choosing a volunteer to shoot him. Perhaps understandably he takes his time over it. They’re going to be sharing a lot, and he knows the cost to each of them if it goes wrong.
The piece is structured around the fatal onstage shooting of Victorian magician William Henderson by labourer Charles Gaunt. Drummond is a warm, charismatic and consummate performer. But this isn’t a solo show, and he gives a lot over to the volunteer. The danger in this sharing of power is palpable – these are uncontrolled circumstances and anything could happen. What if the volunteer just refuses to do it, or worse?
Through Gaunt’s fictional letters, ideas of nihilism are movingly explored. The show isn’t really about a bullet catch, but what would drive someone to do one. Still, nothing can detract from the frisson of seeing a gun onstage or the feeling of fear when an utter stranger holds it in front of you. Even magic tricks can go wrong.