Despite the Pasadena Playhouse’s recent financial woes, the intrepid Furious Theatre Co. ensemble continues to churn out hit after hit in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre space above the Playhouse, the most recent example being “boom” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, which focuses on the fascination with the fictional consequences of the real actions of our society. Along the way, we’re entertained by a play about a play that is thought provoking, funny and clumsy in an engaging way.
The many references to pop culture, science and the alienation caused by technology embroider a plot that not so much unfolds as comes together. There are so many switchbacks that it is unfair to spoil the fun of putting all the pieces together. Suffice to say, there are three misfit characters. One is the well-known TV actress Julia Duffy, lending perfect comic timing to the role of Barbara, a woman who has a mysterious hold over the other characters in the play. Furious veteran Nick Cernoch portrays Jules, the perfect science nerd, who spends his time and most of his money on outfitting his underground bunker to prepare for Earth’s doom. And there’s Megan Goodchild as Jo, his uncooperative hostage, proving that acting can be a workout.
Their efforts to survive provide a cautionary tale for today, while Barbara’s commentary about “the resilience of life against all odds, blah, blah, blah” lets us know that the event we are watching actually took place some 45 million (or is it billion?) years ago. The ending will surprise some and provide food for thought to all.
Furious Theatre finds success in the tightness of its ensemble, and Dámaso Rodriguez knows how to pull the best from his actors. Aided by Nachtrieb’s wacky script, he insinuates Duffy’s brand of comic timing into the mix for a heady cocktail of clever wordplay and downright visceral fight choreography (by Brian Danner).
The future, we should know, is remarkably absent complex technology, an unobtrusive clue from Kurt Boetcher’s set design enhanced by decoration and props (by Shannon Dedman). Costume Designer Leah Piehl also plants subtle evidence of “then and now” in contrasting Duffy with survivors Goodchild and Cernoch.
There is significance in the use of lower case ‘b’ in “boom.” If this play depicts the end followed by new hope for the world, then we will experience it not as a bang, but as a whimper. And should you want to laugh while contemplating society’s present and future, “boom” is the play for you.
“boom" plays through June 20 at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre in the Pasadena Playhouse Complex, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $32 and available online at furioustheatre.org. For information, call (626) 792-7116.