REVIEW: Boom (Theatre 503) ★★★★

When journalism student Jo responds to a dating ad that promises ‘Sex to change the course of the world’, she thinks she’s on to a no-strings winner. However, upon meeting marine biologist Jules at his underground laboratory for a night of passion, the ad turns out to be a lot more literal than she had first imagined – and surprising in more ways than one.

Firstly, Jules is gay. Secondly, he has prophesied that the end of the world is imminent, after spending years observing the erratic behaviour of fish in a telling location; Jo is the set of ovaries that he hopes will be the start of the new human race. Naturally, she’s got an opinion or two on this rather contrived plan. Then the whole world really does go BOOM…

If it sounds far-fetched, it is, but it’s so amusing to watch that you embrace it with open arms. The suitability of actors Will Merrick (playing Jules) and Nicole Sawyerr (as Jo) working opposite one another could not be more apt, their dialogue bounced off from one another like raindrops, creating a wonderfully sitcom-esque feel to the drama that is immensely comical and fuelled by oodles of dark humour. This felt very well-rehearsed and easy to relax into, letting the plot twists get stranger and the situation become more desperate. Comedy such as this requires an excellent understanding of how to perform sarcasm and get the ironic silences just right – hence why the professional capabilities between Merrick and Sawyerr need to be so evenly matched (of which they thankfully are). The script provides a philosophical feast for the mind, from Jo’s mysterious medical condition, to her somewhat cynical perspective on how casual sex is the one remaining pleasure in a life of meaninglessness, to what it means to preserve the essence of humanity.

The third character, Barbara (played by the multi-talented Mandi Symonds) emerges as a significant character and key plot driver as the performance matures, revealing a whole new dimension on what we think we are watching transpire. Wholly comical and endearing, her character itself is a superb creation, however there are a handful of moments where her soliloquys become far too drawn out and almost tiresome to listen to. The play is extremely energetic and could be considered rather draining by the end; the noise projection involved with Barbara’s lines is in itself enough to entertain, so the play would benefit from shortening of some of these scenes, particularly towards the end.

Writer Peter Sinn Nachtrieb has produced a deliriously absurd but impossible-not-to-love doomsday drama, which serves as a somewhat disturbing reminder of our gaping mortality as human beings – seemingly at mercy to the intelligence of fish. Brought to life by three incredibly talented actors and a strong creative team, ‘Boom’ is undeniably infectious.

Reviewed by Laura Evans
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli