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Bombshell: Review

The Bloomington Playwrights Project's contribution to IU and Bloomington's themester, Making War, Making Peace, is called Bombshell. Its part of the BPP's major playwright's series, eight short plays written on the theme. All are intelligent, most are ironic, some are trenchantly touching. But even the darkest have funny moments.

Throughout the evening Maddie Shea Baldwin and Markus McClain mimed their way through scenes sketched by the BPP's producing director Chad Rabinovitz on themes that both commented on and introduced the plays.

National contest winner Stephen Massicotte's Hombres is an amusingly engaging two character, two gun western with Daniel Petrie, who may be a killer, and Nathan Robbins, who'd like to be a sheriff, trading philosophical and technical information on civic responsibility, hangings and the difficulty of shooting straight with the left hand out of a two gun rig.

Uglies vs. Aliens features Caty Natt as an attractive but less-than-popular girl insightfully commenting on a world takeover by aliens that affects only superficially beautiful people, leaving them with Dale Carnegie manners and heightened libidos. The effects on a high school social structure are also mixed, to say the least.

Greg Kotis, the author of the book and lyrics for Urinetown, takes us into the trenches too. His Sarge lampoons a woefully unprepared squad that's readying to go over the top. Jeff Craft, as their patient leader, has tried to keep things as simple as possible, but eventually has to fully explain how his unit is to put "little pieces of metal in the bellies" of their foes.

Frankly, the first half of Bombshell at the BPP is stronger than the second. But if you left at intermission you'd have missed the most moving and enigmatic mime movement of the evening, as Markus McClain comfortingly embraced himself through the arm of the marine jacket to be used in the next play. And you'd have missed Academy Award-winning actor Jesse Eisenberg's quirkily insightful A Little Part of All of Us. It's a cup-of-coffee therapy session with Nathan Robbins as a young man trying to tailgate on the overall impact of 9/11.

The overall production of Bombshell very effectively uses video and still photos along with cleverly integrated sound. Scenic design is by Shane Cinal, lighting design by Jeffrey Small, sound design by Nick Krohn, and photography by Ivona Hedin.

At the theatre for you, I'm George Walker.

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