With that opening music, just in time to get her coat off to join in on a pair of kettle drums, frazzled but smartly dressed docent Barbara, played by Diane Kondrat arrives for the beginning of the Cardinal Stage Company's production of Peter Sinn Nactrieb's edgy sci-fi comedy Boom.
Barbara along with her control panel and drums are just to the left of Mark Frederic Smith's incredible set for the drama. It's an elaborately massive, clunky yet graceful fall-out-shelter that would look perfect in a James Bond epic.
As the drama unfolds, with occasional pauses while Barbara explains, expands and gripes about the management of her museum a nerdy grad student Jules, played by Mike Price and Emily Goodson as Jo, an aggressive undergrad journalist start the story.
Jules has decided that a huge comet will end life on the planet's surface and has naively posted a want ad for a woman that he hopes will help him procreate the next generation. Jo is looking for a subject for a school report and has distinct reservations about his plan.
As Boom develops, the comet does arrive and safe, but stuck in the fall-out-shelter they survive the impact. However, despite Jules' best efforts at open persuasion and secret approaches involving a turkey baster, Jo resists. There is plenty of ironic give and take between these two and quite a few laughs at their ongoing battles.
So far, despite its cleverness, Boom seemed pretty straightforward, but then there's a major reversal. Barbara tells us that her diorama is a depiction created from Jo's sixty-five million year old notebooks. I won't give all of the plot away, but Jules and Jo are not our patriarch and matriarch. The audience is left to wonder about who those characters who seemed so real really are and then what we are as well.
Randy White's direction of Boom is tight and assured. Diane Kondrat's Barbara is a full blown and very funny creation. Mike Price's Jules is ever the eager, creative, single minded and clueless grad student. Emily Goodson is always aggressive, assertive and yet a bit bigger than that. At the same time that they are a vivid trio, there's a carefully worked out distance from the audience that they maintain which seems to suit the style of the piece.
The Cardinal Stage Company's production of Boom continues through November 15th. Playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and director Randy White will be on hand for an open talk back on Thursday the 5th following the performance.
Boom by Peter Sinn Nactrieb
Cardinal Stage Company
October 39-November 15, 2009