The world goes boom

Updated: 13 Feb 2012
The world goes boom

The end is nigh, doomsday is upon us. Rosheen Fatima starts hoarding supplies as she enters this apocalyptic tale

Today’s world of pop culture is inundated with tales of the impending apocalypse, from films and TV shows such as ‘Melancholia’ and ‘The Walking Dead’, and even on our local stage, with ‘Serangan Zombie Pertama di Malaysia’ and ‘Apocalips’. With this deluge of (shall we say) doomsday entertainment, it’s only fitting that as we wet our feet in the year that is foretold to be our last, this theme should once again take the stage.

The great mind of Sheldon Cooper (from the hit TV series ‘The Big Bang Theory’) once asked his future roommate, ‘In a post-apocalyptic world, which task would you assign the highest priority – locating a sustainable food source, re-establishing a functioning government, procreating, or preserving the knowledge of mankind?’ The answer was ‘anything but procreating’. However, in this play, procreation is its very core. And why not? Surely that would be the best way to relieve the depression that would inevitably set in amongst the few survivors of the apocalypse? The flooding of endorphins and oxytocin will surely beat the blues away. But, I digress. In this play ‘Boom’, the lead character Jules – when faced with the impending end of the world – chooses to procreate. And how he goes about doing this sets in motion a cat-andmouse game between himself and Jo, as they are watched over by the seemingly omnipotent Barbara.

The play is set during a moment where a cataclysmic event threatens to wipe out all life from the planet. So what does one do when faced with such a catastrophe? ‘Get a date, of course!’ says director David Lim. Written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, who holds degrees in both theatre and biology, ‘Boom’ tackles issues of the end of the world, fate and an individual’s role in the curtain call of the world as we know it. Inspired by Peter’s experiences while interning for a marine biologist off the coast of Panama, ‘Boom’ is, to David, ‘a zany blend of science fiction and romantic comedy.’ In fact, that was one of the things that most attracted David to the script. ‘It blew my mind when I read it’, he explains. ‘It’s a very rare kind of script. I loved the dialogue and the way the story unfolded. I have also been very interested in the sciences lately, and this play successfully melds art and science. Both fields, after all, attempt the same thing: to try and make sense of the world in an epic and intimate way.’

After premiering at New York City’s Ars Nova in March 2008 to good reviews (The New Yorker called it ‘imaginative and easy to like’), ‘Boom’ became the most produced play in America for a brief period of time. With witty yet dark dialogue and a ingenious plot that though seemingly far-fetched hits a little close to home, ‘Boom’ is not, according to David, an absurdist play. ‘There is some allusion to Sartre’s take on existentialism (which isn’t really absurdism anyway) since the play features characters stuck in a room where they have no choice but to endure each other,’ he says. ‘But other than that, it really is a very straightforward play that’s easy to follow. You won’t walk out of the theatre scratching your head, I’m pretty sure of that.’

Most of the plays David has directed have featured a small cast; he explains that ‘plays with a small cast work better in the sense that we get a chance to see the characters being fleshed out more (of course, large-cast plays can have fully fleshed out characters but they tend to run longer). Make no mistake, most smallcast plays are actor-driven. So if you want to witness great acting, these are the kinds of plays to look out for.’ He adds that ‘I wouldn’t say that I prefer directing plays with a small cast, but rather prefer directing the latest plays with great stories and great characters, and these generally tend to have a small cast.’

Set in an underground research laboratory, marine biologist Jules lures journalism student Jo to join him for a night with the promise of ‘sex to change the course of the world’ (a tempting offer indeed). But Jo is unprepared for how literal that offer is and wants only the casual sexual encounter she expected. As the world literally crashes on top of them, the two begin a clumsy courtship of confusion and chaos, watched continuously by a strange woman on the fringes of their world. Can these two individuals, with their glaringly contrasting and clashing personalities, come together for the good of mankind? The cast of three is made up of Jon Chew, Sharon Lam and BB Ostella Adam.

With an explosive script, a cast with chemistry and a dynamite director at its helm, ‘Boom’ certainly makes for one charged production. And we can almost ensure that the audience will leave – as David hopes – having had ‘their minds blown’.

'Boom' runs at KLPac from Feb17-19, 21-26. Check out our event listing for more info.