The Gamm’s boom is a matter of life and death

The end (or the beginning?)
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  March 14, 2012


If the end of the world were coming, how would you spend the time? You may think that you have all the time in the world to answer such a question, but boom, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, would like you to examine the question anyway, as would the Gamm, which is staging the play through April 8. (Spoiler alert: the answer is "make a human connection, stupid.")

We can be comforted that there is, in fact, intelligent life in the universe, as evidenced by this amusing and occasionally insightful thought experiment, directed by Fred Sullivan, Jr. If only we knew that we would take our collective demise with such good humor as is displayed here, Armageddon wouldn't have such a bad rep.

boom is a backhanded creation myth, too, a version of what might have happened to bring down the end of civilization eons ago, before fish ventured onto land to evolve into human beings. Our guide, on her last day in the job, is Barbara (Wendy Overly), a hyperkinetic commentator at a museum exhibit, throwing a switch now and then to interrupt the action and make random observations that occur to her. The exhibit theme: "The resilience of life against all odds."

Under examination are Jules (Marc Dante Mancini), a marine biology grad student, and Jo (Gillian Williams), a journalism student interviewing him. They are in his laboratory, which is filled with such things as creatures in formaldehyde, an aquarium, toy dinosaurs, and a bed, since his funding grant didn't provide for housing.

Jules is convinced by his research, observing very nervous fish, that the world is about to come to an end very soon, specifically by a comet striking it. (Don't ask.) He knows all about dismal ends, one sister having been swept up in a hurricane like an unlucky Dorothy, another having been eaten by hyenas. Jo was attracted to journalism by "newscaster hair," representing stability in a changing world, and attracted to Jules by his classified ad for "sex to change the course of the world." As she puts it, "In no-strings sex, hope is still possible." She just wants to couple but he wants them to be a couple and regenerate the human race after everybody up above his bunker-lab is destroyed. Among his supplies is a cabinet full of diapers (and tampons). Since he is gay and she finds their first kiss unconvincing, prospects are dodgy.

Each of this trio is so intense in being their contrasting selves that there is a danger of audiences failing to blink during the play's brisk 80 minutes. Williams's Jo is so steadfast in her anger that we're afraid she will spontaneously combust. As Jules, Mancini remains a wide-eyed, giddy boy excited about his theory at the beginning and delighted beyond words when it proves true. Overly's Barbara all but grabs audience members by their shirt fronts as she narrates and makes observations with the fervor and twisted logic of a revival tent preacher. Sullivan has directed them to each maintain their single, mad focus of intent, as though each were convinced that their convictions alone could save humankind.

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Related: Play by play: March 12, 2010, After Eden, Review: Mixed Magic's Art of Attack, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Theatre, Boom, The Gamm
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