Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Review boom

by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb

From Here To Eternity

boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb is not to be confused with Boum!, French singer Charles Trenet's pulsating song and ode to life and love where biology has taken over marked by a thumping heartbeat.

But this is the surreal enforced household of Jules - who has reinvented his name as a tribute to French science fiction and surrealist novelist Jules Verne -  and his visitor - female Jo (aha, did you really think it might turn out to be Jim for - er - Jemima - ? - to carry our artificially imposed French theme?).

Jules, a marine biologist, under the pretext of an online lonely hearts ad promising "intensely significant coupling" has lured to his student pad cum lab cum bunker,  Jo. She's a world-weary journalism student from England who is careless about whom she couples with, looking to churn out an article for an assignment.

But Jules has found out that, through his study of fish, that the earth's population is about to go boom! in the negative sense of the word and, driven by a biological and intellectual imperative, is set on saving the human race.

There are a few not insurmountable difficulties.

Jules, who calls a fish in tank Dorothy after the Wizard Of Oz heroine, is gay, even if he recognizes the necessity to create a huge family tree out of a little bush sprig.

While Jo, who also suffers from periodic blackouts, definitely does not want to procreate and a bond between the two seems highly unlikely. .

As the comet approaches the earth, it looks like Jules may be running out of options.

But wait, who is that - that mouthy, percussive museum worker with an array of levers and whose drumbeats intermittently frame the action?  That's Barbara who is your unreliable narrator tour guide to the end of the world and new beginnings.

This three-hander was first performed, and well-received by critics, in New York in 2008 the year the lever was pulled, bursting the credit bubble with the crunch.

The deliberate artificiality, the farcical destruction and creation myth obviously hit a nerve when scientist Jules recounts how his mother "couldn't have picked a worse time to go on a tour of unreinforced masonry in California".

However director Katherine Nesbitt seems unsure of how to hide the flaws of this energetic, raw piece.

Nicole Sawyerr as the journalist in training is clear and focussed but never seems to really get a handle on Jo's determination to turn the random into journalism and her lapses into unconsciousness.

Will Merrick gives good value as theorizing Jules, nicely inept as the graduate whose best laid plans go wrong from a combination of his own incompetence and outside circumstances.

Mandi Symonds's green-suited Barbara, regulating the action, making the Wizard of Oz persona her own, gradually becomes more and more part of the story. Even if her inivtation for the audience to take her into its confidence and purchase the institution's "pamphlets" plant increasing seeds of doubt.

However the play is alternately thought-provoking and tedious with the incomprehension and isolation of Jules and Jo becoming grating.

Meanwhile Barbara's downfall and (dubious) resilience feels a long time coming. There's something there but, although some aspects of this tall tale grew on TLT, it felt spread mighty thinly over an eternity of 90 or so minutes. A lower range amber light.

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