Monday, September 24, 2012

Theater Review: boom

By Phil Doyle

“boom” begins as a one-night stand situational comedy and evolves, quite literally, into an apocalyptic survival tale. 

Suzanna Wellens plays Barbara, the bouncy facilitator of “boom”.  Apparently her job is to run the show, standing upstage, pulling levers and pushing buttons, stopping the action in its tracks to interject narrative.  Barbara also acts as a Greek chorus of sorts, emphasizing key moments with bells and punctuating important dialog with percussive timpani.  She sets the scene and introduces us to the play’s two characters.

Jules, played by Royce Wood, is a post grad marine biologist.  Driven by a hunch, and a methodical scientific observation of coral fish, he knows that the world is about to end.  A comet is going to strike, and cause a massive extinction event.  So, in an attempt to save the human species, he places an ad on Craigslist that promises “Sex to change the course of the world!”  Jules plan is to lure and keep a woman in his bomb shelter/apartment/lab, where they will be safe, and become the modern day Adam and Eve. 

Enter Jo, played by Samara Bridwell.  Jo is an energetic undergrad looking for a quick sexual tryst, and ends up an unwilling captive.  She is also prone to mysterious episodes of dropping dead, and then springing back to life.   

Jules is bewildered by Jo’s fatal narcoleptic fits and resurrections, but that isn’t the only obstacle in his plan.  It turns out that Jules is gay.   But he is still determined to do what it takes to propagate the species.  What follows are moments of hilarity where all the actors shine.  When asked how do you know that you’re really gay?  Jules replies, “The non-randomness of the erections.”  “boom” is bejeweled with moments of astute and witty dialog.

Suzanna Wellens is brimming with spunk and enthusiasm as Barbara, the play’s cruise director of sorts.  Wellens does a good job of focusing the attention of the audience, particularly in the beginning. She expedites the play’s action, addressing the audience from time to time, reminding us of the remarkable importance of what we’re witnessing. 

I would like to mention that I have a qualm with plays that break the fourth wall. If an actor is actively engaging the audience, address them directly.  Grab our attention, make eye contact with us, and do not focus on an empty chair, or an imaginary balcony.   

Samara Bridwell proves great ability to shamelessly commit to a character’s extremes.  She is a fearless actor.  Bridewell’s Jo can move to and fro, from ruthlessly horny to hopelessly disappointed, from bounding around stage to passing out dead.
My highest commendation goes to Royce Wood, an actor possessing great skill and reckless abandon.  He confidently seizes a moment, and joyfully has his way with it.  Wood embodies his character Jules as if the part was written for him, which is one of the best reasons to go see “boom”.  He is likeable, smart, and comfortable on stage.

The challenge of this play is maintaining energy and building momentum toward its clever conclusion.  “boom” begins with skillful purpose.  It nabs the audience’s attention and promises a rewarding reveal.  But, the journey becomes detoured and loses some speed along the way.  My experience as an observer became challenged by the predictable interruptions of the action.  The staccato stop and go’s labored my initial enthusiasm, instead of building it up.  

Still, this play appeals to my inner-science nerd ... and as a lover of all things theatre, I greatly appreciate Royce Wood's performance.  boom” is a witty apocalyptic comedy with an evolutionary twist.   

"boom" plays The Edge Theatre in Lakewood, Colorado through October 21. For tickets or more information visit or call 303-232-0363.