By John Farrell
Take a marine biologist obsessed with the end of the world, a female journalism student looking for love in exactly the wrong place, a tank of fishes and a woman who literally pulls switches to make the story happen, and you have boom, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s entertaining and occasionally thoughtful dystopic fantasy about the end of the world as we know it.
boom tells what happens in one very crazy corner of the world when everything, and we mean everything, is lost in a comet impact that is bigger and better than the one that ended the dinosaur’s reign on earth. The play is a little long, and if you don’t like shaggy dog stories you’ll be unhappy with its ending. But you’ll love the three actors, the sparkling, witty, even crazy dialogue and when it is all over, you’ll be laughing and maybe evening thinking about the play’s premise.
Take one marine biologist named Jules (the versatile Angel Correa) and a journalism student named Jo (the delightful Julie Civiello) and put them in a well-lit room-like box – they are actually a museum exhibit – with Barbara (the manic and at the same time conservatively dressed Michelle Holmes) pulling the levers, and you have boom. Jules has discovered the impending doom of the world by studying tropical fish and has taken refuge in a bomb shelter, where he invites Jo to join him. Problem is, Jules wants to repopulate the world with Jo, but he is gay and she, despite answering an add for hot sex in the newspaper, is a virgin who doesn’t want children. She also doesn’t believe the world is going to be obliterated by an interstellar collision. Barbara, who is giving personal notes to the audience as she pauses and stops and starts the show, and who delivers more than a few drum solos on her timpani as well, also has her problems: she has been fired for making politically incorrect remarks and may have to open her own museum.
The comet does crash (in a very loud, timpani-reinforced “boom”) but that is only the beginning of the historic couples problem. Food runs out in their bomb-shelter hide-away after they learn that the “Dr. Strangelove”-like mountain fortress for the well-heeled is flooded, and it looks like humanity – the audience in this case – is also doomed. Not to worry. Everything works out for the best (except, perhaps, Barbara’s drum solos) but we’re not telling how.
Caitlin Sullivan Hart directs with a nice ear for the absurd and a watchful eye that the participants remain in their own fish-tank. The set, designed by Amanda Knehans, has just enough reality that it might actually be in some musty museum.
boom is one of many plays being done at the Playhouse’s Collaborative series, which invited many Long Beach theater companies to use the Playhouse facilities to produce their own works, and the Collaborative has proven itself a success. Alive Theatre is doing another show at the Collaborative, Male Matriarch, written by and starring Amir Levi, March 6 and 7. It will be worth seeing, too.
Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors, and $10 for groups of ten or more. boom plays Thursday, March 1 at 8 p.m., Friday, March 2 at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3 at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 8 at 8 p.m., Friday, March 9 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m.
Details: (562) 494-1014, www.lbplayhouse.org
Venue: Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre
Location: 5021 East Anaheim, Long Beach