Theatre503, London – until 26 August 2017
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s play tries to balance comedy with serious ideas but ends up feeling incoherent in Katherine Nesbitt’s production.
How would you plan to repopulate the Earth if you knew that an apocalypse was coming? is just one of the many questions that Peter Sinn Nachtrieb puts to the audience in BOOM – a bizarre comedy that also looks at the meaning of life without offering any real solutions.
Jules is a marine biologist who puts out a personal advert in which he offers ‘sex to change the course of the world’. Jo responds to the ad, hoping for a lot of sex – but when she gets to his lab, she discovers that Jules is in fact after something quite different.
After this, everything becomes increasingly muddled, with nothing in which either central character or Barbara (who speaks to the audience from thousands of years after civilisation as we knew it ended) seeming to make much sense. Everybody switches from one topic to the next with increasing hyperactivity that ends up feeling quite wearisome.
It is a shame that the speed of Katherine Nesbitt’s production, as well as the lack of clarity in the plot, means that the show becomes more difficult as time goes on – because Peter Sinn Nachtrieb has come up with an intriguing idea with some excellent punch lines that are really witty.
The main issue with Nesbitt’s production is that it doesn’t quite cut through the bizarreness of the script and give sense of the story – despite it generating solid performances from all of the cast. It is difficult to see the meaning of the play because the serious ideas that Boom suggests are quickly fobbed off by the humour.
Will Merrick as Jules is sweetly nerdish, perfectly complimented by Nicole Sawyerr’s hostile and feisty Jo – together both are able to bounce off each other’s lines effectively. Meanwhile, Mandi Symonds as Barbara – a character retelling Jules and Jo’s story thousands of years on – while having great energy, tends to feel slightly over the top particularly in the final moments of the show. All do their best with the weak material that they are given.
Ultimately, it is a mess of a play that seems to struggle in terms of the weight of its own ideas and is difficult to appreciate in its current form. For those who love their comedy quirky, you might want to pay a visit – but somehow you might be better off looking elsewhere for an end of the world comedy.
Boom continues to play at Theatre503 until the 26th August. For more information visit: https://theatre503.com/whats-on/boom/.