AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Directed by Ryan Rilette
Presented by Marin Theatre Company
Boyer Theatre
397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, CA / Phone (415) 388-5208

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Believing that Earth will soon be struck by a comet that wipes out most life, a nerdy marine biologist places an ad for a night of "sex to change the course of the world." A journalism student responds, expecting hot sex when she goes to the young man's lab, which also serves as his living quarters. So begins Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's "Boom," being given its Bay Area premiere by Marin Theatre Company.

The young woman, Jo (Blythe Foster), is dismayed to learn that not only is Jules (Nicholas Pelczar), gay and a virgin, he also intends to keep her in his lab, which he has fortified against the approaching cataclysm. He wants to impregnate her so that they can repopulate the world once the dust literally settles. She doesn't think much of that idea, especially since she doesn't like children and doesn't want to be a mother. Nevertheless, the comet strikes as Jules had predicted from observing the behavior of fish, and the two are stuck in a survivalist mode.

Although Nachtrieb's idea is interesting, it's not developed as well as one would like. Supposedly the 90-minute play, running without intermission, is a sex farce, but it doesn't quite work because Jo's character isn't as well developed as Jules'. Hence, the play loses some balance, especially since Jo seems to have a rather limited vocabulary liberally sprinkled with MF. Moreover, the playwright delays revealing information about her that might have made her seem more plausible if known sooner. Her best scene comes when she talks about having newscaster hair and delivering a speech that's a parody of vacuous TV announcers.

Finally, the play has a third character, Barbara (Joan Mankin), who provides sound effects on drums and gongs and seems to manipulate some of the action via levers in her kiosk off to one side of the stage. It turns out she's a museum docent for a historical re-enactment by actors playing Jo and Jules. Her escalating issues with management become more intrusive as she becomes more overwrought.

The bunker-like set, provisioned with stacks of cartons and a centrally placed fish tank, is by Erik Flatmo, with lighting by Michael Palumbo. The costumes are by Callie Floor, the sound and music by Chris Houston.

Despite some humorous moments and a solid cast, the play doesn't work as well as one might hope in Ryan Rilette's staging.

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