Perseverance gets big-bang-pow laughs with naughty 'Boom'

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010

I am blushing, but it is a nice blush. It is an R-rated, just over PG-13 kind of blush shaded by witticisms, blotted with F-words and pencil-thin highlights of humor, that can only be applied by the talent brought to Perseverance Theatre's rendering of San Francisco writer Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's end-of-the-world, beginning-of-life comedy, "Boom."

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

"It's just language actually," Perseverance Theatre managing director Jeff Rogers said. "That's the only thing, just the words ... It's naughty, so it's irreverent, but I don't think it pushes any other envelopes."

As a former commercial fisherman born and raised in a town of colorful Norwegians with naughty language, the flawlessly executed flow and interpretation in "Boom" is Perseverance's latest wonderful achievement.

Basically the plot is such: Gay marine biologist Jules, having discovered through the patterned behavior of fish, that life as we know it is about to end under the wrath of a speeding comet, places a Craig's List ad promising "hookup sex to change the course of the world."

The ad is answered by journalism student Jo, a life-major in pessimism, whose class project on "random sex as the last glimmer of hope in a decaying society" is due Monday.

All is seemingly narrated, operated and controlled in the booth of Barbara ... or is it?

"I think the play is a romp through the story of these two people stuck in this ridiculous situation," "Boom"'s New York-based director Emma Griffin said. "It ends up being this meditation on life, and creativity, and how choices are made.

"I also enjoy the character of Barbara," Griffin continued. "Her social meditation on theatre ... how and why we tell stories. The pleasures and struggles of how stories and creativity connect."

Griffin brings with her costume designer Jessica Trejos, lighting designer Raquel Davis, and Juneau-raised sound designer Rory Stitt.

Griffin gave interesting character profiles to watch for. Barbara should be examined for what exactly she is controlling, who she is in the story, what her role is in the storytelling and as the storyteller. Jules and Jo should be closely studied for their quirky love story ... how it happens and how it unfolds and how they change to get there.

Perseverance Theatre artistic director Art Rotch designs the set of "Boom" and, although limited to a one-room scene the audience will be drawn into the details of the stage and how the actors react to their environment.

When Rotch approached Griffin about directing "Boom" he had in mind three local actors, and their casting turns out to be a great fit for the production. Doneice Gott plays Jo, Brandon Demery is Jules, and Shona Strauser is Barbara.

Jo is cranky and cynical, sucks happiness out of a room, and believes life is hopeless. Her interesting quirk of falling unconscious whenever danger threatens is frustratingly amusing.

"Jo has a desire to experience new things but is consumed by self-loathing," Gott said of her character. "She regains her will to live and be a positive force in the world ... but leading up to that her body just will not let her experience anything real, it stops her before she really can. I like the contemporary writing style of the play, almost sit-commish and over the top. It's got great rhythm."

Jules is an anti-social homosexual, which made his discovery of impending doom even more wildly unbelievable to his peers, yet he is an optimist.

"I like the play's themes and subject matter," Demery said. "It is not realism, it's a level higher than that. I am very anxious to see how the audience reacts to this. It is all about this will to live, to keep our species going ... and that supersedes anybody's particular persuasion, ideology, belief system ... it's just basic."

Barbara, emblazond with a name tag, works feverently from a booth throwing levers and switches to seemingly control the stage action. She interrupts every so often with a humorous antidote of life and love, including a wonderfully hilarious and descriptive visual of her own conception.

"I can relate to Barbara's passion and joy," Strauser said. She is really thrilled with what is happening on stage and proud that she is involved in that."

Jules, Jo, and the audience (some towing their 10-year-olds, some who will leave their 15-year-olds at home) will leave that laboratory bomb shelter in Perseverance Theatre together. They will step towards Juneau's night after Barbara's monologue on the resilience of life: The magic, mystery and wonder of that resilience. How we cannot understand it but can tell stories that inform our emotional relationship with that wonder.

"It is delightful, fun, sweet, very warm hearted in so many ways," Griffin said. "But it is also naughty and there are adult situations ... all done with the greatest, funniest spirit. I hope people have a fantastic time at the theatre, enjoy the art of story telling, and go away with discussions of the twists and turns of whose story it really is."

"Boom" is nothing not heard or possibly seen on the docks of Petersburg, the Discovery Channel, or the new release's shelf at Blockbuster. It is just done with more class, humor and sophistication.

"Boom" opens Friday night and runs through March 21.

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