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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Doomsday comedy takes stage

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    In the stage directions to his play, “boom,” Peter Sinn Nachtrieb describes the time period of his story as taking place “when we least expect it.” This ambiguity is the perfect preface for a play that’s full of surprises.

    The students of the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television tackle such ambiguities with their staging of “boom” Thursday through Sunday as part of the Studio Series productions.

    Displaying adult themes such as sexuality and existentialism, “boom” is a contemporary comedy that follows two college students living in a secluded laboratory as they wait for Earth to be destroyed by an impending comet. A mysterious third character hovers in the background, operating various levers as the two protagonists quarrel in their fishbowl existence.

    As mankind waits to be tarnished, the two students, Jules and Jo, strip their clothes, bear their childhood traumas and down cups of alcohol — and that’s all in the play’s first scene.

    “It’s super energetic and doesn’t really give you a chance to think,” said Cassandra Crandall, a theatre arts student senior and director of “boom.” This production marks Crandall’s directing debut in the School of Theatre, Film and Television.

    The perseverance of Jules and Jo as they watch their hopes and ambitions go up in smoke with the apocalypse is an element Crandall finds appealing in “boom.” She said she tried to establish a collaborative rehearsal environment for her student actors to explore the full range of their characters.

    As a veteran performer of the Charles Darwin Experience improvisation troupe, Crandall said she used her improv skills to gracefully recover from questionable choices made when interpreting this challenging text.

    Like most other plays performed in the Studio Series, “boom” is edgy, thought-provoking and unpredictable with its subject matter. Crandall said the purpose of the Studio Series is to allow students to practice types of theater they see themselves doing in the outside world.

    “It’s a style of theater I want to do,” said Gabi Urias, a theatre arts senior student who plays the character of Jo. This is Urias’ third Studio Series production, and she said “boom” is unlike any other play she’s been in.

    When approaching the character of Jo, Urias said she was challenged by her defensive, closed-off personality, which sharply contrasts with the comedic, musical roles Urias is more accustomed to. 

    The key to understanding Jo is confronting her resistance to fulfill her biological duty of having a child, Urias said. It’s a truth that is the source for much conflict when Jules and Jo are destined to repopulate the Earth together in the aftermath of the apocalypse. 

    The play also features Dillon Olmanson, a senior studying theatre arts and creative writing, as Jules, and Sydney Werry, a theatre arts senior, as the bizarre puppet-master watching over Jules and Jo. 

    The three-person cast matches the small, intimate space of the Harold Dixon Directing Studio, where “boom” is staged. The studio-like theater permits audience members to closely observe Jules and Jo as they face a brave new world of uncertainties.

    “We’re doing this play because we’re all passionate about it,” Crandall said.

    Like Nachtrieb dictates in his stage directions, this peculiar comedy may only resonate with the average patron when they least expect it, but perhaps that’s all part of the thrill of seeing live theater.

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    Follow Kevin C. Reagan on Twitter.

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