Alive Theatre production of ‘boom’ combines sex, science fiction
With a premise of “sex to change the course of the world,” college students should be rushing to the Long Beach Playhouse to see the Alive Theatre’s production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s “boom.”
As the title implies, the stakes are high throughout the performance as the two protagonists, Jo and Jules, met through a Craigslist ad that promises a night of causal sex. Unfortunately, things get complicated when a comet strikes the earth and destroys the planet. However simple this plot may sound, deeper themes are explored through this futuristic comedy that toys with new ideas about the end and beginning of the world.
In the intimate Studio Theater of the Long Beach Playhouse, audience members are immediately immersed in the dark, misty and futuristic setting of the play. The curtain of the proscenium stage is drawn and framed by multiple levers and lights. Through the light misty fog, the audience is introduced to Barbara (Michele Holmes), a red-haired woman wearing a salt-and-pepper-colored work suit and a nametag. Right off the bat, her diction and movements give away that she is different from the rest of the audience. She also breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to audience members by suggesting seats or casual greetings.
As Barbara, Holmes is at first very stoic and solid, but then develops more passion through her storytelling as the plot progresses. She is the one who introduces the “exhibit.” As she draws back the curtains, a bright turquoise room is revealed, containing a hot pink couch and a glowing bubbling fish tank. The two other characters are also revealed in this moment, Jo (Julie Civiello) and Jules (Angel Correa), whose awkward tension penetrates through the bright room.
Jules is a geeky biology student who has successfully lured Jo into his bizarre bio lab and living space for a night of “intensely significant coupling.” However, after he reveals that he is gay, his true intentions are revealed. Through his research, he has discovered that a comet is going to hit the earth and destroy the planet. This is exactly what happens.
The plot thickens after Jo discovers that she is not able to leave the lab and that Jules’ purpose for her was to quite literally repopulate the earth after the ashes settle.
The chemistry between Civiello and Correa is fantastic. This dramatic doomsday plot is filled with witty banter and hilarious moments between the two. Civiello’s growing anxiety to escape swiftly transforms into insanity. Correa counters the insanity with an equally passionate intellect that creates a lovable character that the audience cheers for.
The mysterious Barbara acts as a tour guide for the audience and puppet master to the actors throughout the drama, manipulating both Jo and Jules with the levers for the sake of the story. It becomes clear that this “exhibit,” as Barbara calls it, is a documentation of the future people’s history and also a speculation of what the real origin of the world would have been.
Although confusing at times, this abstract and futuristic comedy explores the long pondered creation of the world through its funny dialogue and its expressive movements.
“Boom” will run every Thursday through Saturday until March 10 at 8 p.m. Performances are held in the Studio Theater at the Long Beach Playhouse. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for students and seniors; and $10 for groups of 10 or more. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit lbplayhouse.org.