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Monday, March 18,2013

In the 'Boom'-boom room

A singles ad leads to apocalyptic troubles in a fine MSU Summer Circle Theatre comedy

by Tom Helma

Coming on the heels of what recently turned out to be the pseudo-Rapture, Michiagn State University invites Summer Circle Theatre patrons to imagine a psycho-apocalypse, with the production of “Boom,” Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s send-up of what might happen if the two people left in an underground bomb shelter laboratory to repopulate the world turn out to be cosmically incompatible.
Staged and performed on the wet and mosquito-laden banks of the Red Cedar River, it is a wonder to see and hear, with cascades of wonderfully articulated words and some mighty fine acting to accompany them. Essentially an ensemble production, “Boom” features just three actors, one of whom is perched high above the other two, a quasi-God figure named Barbara, played by Lauren Lo Grasso, and performed with great bombastic contortion, banging drums, struggling with words and gesticulating like someone who has waited in line too long at the Port-A-Potty.  Andrea Miller is Jo, the hapless journalism student who answers a singles ad expecting to experience casual sex and write about it for a class paper, only to discover that she is held captive by Jules, played by Tyler Van Camp, a hyper-nerd who has successfully predicted the immediate end of the world due to a comet crashing into the earth. Miller plays dumber than dumb, while Van Camp plays Jules nerdier-than-thou. They are a mixture of oil and water, solid ground  meeting  shifting sand. Can this new world be saved?
Van Camp pulls a serious rabbit out of his hat in an amazingly passionate scene about life and death, one that brings rousing audience applause. Lo Grasso wraps up the play with some very well articulated deep existential thoughts as to why we are here on earth. It is not easy to bring tears to one’s eyes in what is essentially a comedic production, yet Lo Grasso manages to do just that.
Restless ruminators, sitting around, clutching their knees and struggling with what to do with a lonely summer Saturday night, are urged to follow the advice of ancient rocker John Sebastian, to “run to their closet, break out their blue suede shoes.” This play will paint rainbows all over any one's blues.


'Boom' continues at 8 p.m. tonight at Michigan State University's outdoor theater near the MSU Auditorium. Admission is free; donations are accepted.

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