As children, we all learned the fate of the dinosaurs, or at least history’s interpretation of it. We learned from a book, through documentaries or, if we were lucky, by visiting a museum with exhibits to look at and, maybe even touch. So what would a museum dedicated to our own extinction look like 65 million years from now? Boom, written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, explores this subject in amusingly farcical style.
Boom is only just reaching the U.K. after being the most produced play in America from 2009 to 2010. Why? I’m not sure, maybe it’s the fact that it’s relatively easy to stage with one set and three characters, or perhaps it was the spate of apocalyptic movies that were around at the time. In any case it’s premiere at Theatre 503, and directed by Katherine Nesbitt, is long overdue.
Jules is a rather socially awkward marine biologist who has spotted some unusual sleeping patterns amongst fish, while carrying out research on a tropical island. This has led him to conclude that a meteorite is on a collision course with earth and will wipe out all life. He’s right. In preparation he has kitted out an underground lab at his university and plans to repopulate earth.
He advertises online for “sex to change the course of the world”. Journalism student, Jo (Nicole Sawyerr) is the only person to respond, but is quite shocked to find out he meant it literally. The problem is Jules is gay and Jo doesn’t want children so, the plan fails before it’s even begun. While it all feels very real to them we’ve discovered that they are merely exhibits in this futuristic museum. It is name-badge toting, uniform wearing, employee Barbara who is really pulling the strings, or levers to be more precise. But boy does she have her own problems to deal with!
Boom a surreal fantasy drawing on plenty of sci-fi inspiration. There’s a strong cast; Will Merrick as Jules comes across particularly well, especially with his very physical performance, and Mandi Symonds gets plenty of laughs as Barbara.
Different! Declared an audience member as the applause died down, and it is very different, but thoroughly enjoyable too. As a species we are fascinated by our origins, but also our inevitable demise, why else would learn about dinosaurs or make movies about our own annihilation.