Sunday, December 7, 2008

World ends with big laughs at the Rep

The Seattle Rep bills its current production of boom, by playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, as "a comedy about the end of the world." And sure enough, you know you're in for an apocalyptic nightmare when the pre-show musical selections include such songs of gloom and dread as REM's "The End of the World as We Know It," "S.O.S." by Abba, "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King, and even the Carpenters' "Close to You."

Wha-what?? Carpenters? Yes. Remember the lyric, "Why do stars fall down from the sky..."

In boom, it's not a star that falls, but a comet that slams into Earth, just as predicted by Jules, a geeky, gay, and somewhat scattered biology grad student played with great flair by Nick Garrison. Though nobody believes Jules when he predicts catastrophe, he makes preparations anyway. His lab is in an old bomb shelter, he lays in an ample supply of bourbon, food, tampons, and diapers, and uses a Craig's List personal ad to lure a young co-ed into his shelter for the purposes of peopleing the planet post apocalypse.

Unfortunately, the date he gets is Jo, played by Chelsey Rives. Jo, a journalism major who is always behind deadline, plans to use her one-night fling as the basis for a magazine article on fleeting happiness. Jo has no interest in bearing even one child, much less being mother of the entire human race. The comet hits. Jo and Jules are trapped in the lab.

Hilarity ensues, and we get to watch. It's all overseen by Barbara (Gretchen Krich), something of a narrator and one-woman Greek chorus. When she's not griping about the management she's pulling levers and banging the drum, and not slowly. To say more would spoil the punch line -- and you're a genius if you see it coming.

Weisenheimer loves both Garrison and Rives (pictured at right in the production photo by Chris Bennion). Garrison was incredible in an over-the-top performance as the Emcee in Cabaret at The 5th Avenue earlier this year, and also played a gender-bending Feste in Twelfe Night at the Rep this past season. We were in row two at the Rep's Leo K theatre, an intimate house to begin with, the better to be riveted by Garrison's wide range of facial expressions and idiosyncracies. (Though at one point, when Jo observes that "You don't have 'gay' eyes," he responds "I'm wearing contacts.") He really nails (so to speak) the sometimes slapstick, fidgety, socially inept savior of the race. Rives is a ball of fire as Jo, who chronicles each of her hundreds of suicide attempts in the lab, all of which fail (though one was pretty close.) She's a whirlwind who has a chip on her shoulder, and we're pretty sure it was there before the end of the world. Weisenheimer also enjoyed her performance as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire at Intiman this year. She also was in The Lady From Dubuque at the Rep last year. She's a marvelous talent and one to watch.

boom, directed by Jerry Manning, has been extended through Dec. 21. Go!

No comments: