The future of the human race depends upon an extremely mismatched couple in Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s amusing but somewhat clunky new comedy Boom, currently playing Ars Nova. The show’s title references a global catastrophe that wipes out everyone except for the one man who anticipated the crisis and the young woman who answered his personal ad for “intensely significant coupling.”
Boom‘s opening scene is extremely funny, introducing the audience to the cute but nerdy marine biologist Jules (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe), and Jo (Megan Ferguson), a perky but cynical journalism student who keeps having mysterious blackouts. As the sole survivors of the cataclysm, they must repopulate the human race. But Jules and Jo face at least three immediate problems in this regard: he’s gay, she doesn’t want to have a baby, and they don’t have enough food.
Off to the side of the stage is Barbara (Susan Wands), the show’s oddball narrator who occasionally stops the action to talk directly to the audience. As the play goes on, her own back story comes to the fore, and the end results of Jules and Jo’s efforts is revealed in a surprising manner.
The main problem with the production is that both writing and performances reach such a fever pitch of hilarity near the very beginning that it leaves no room to build. The play’s later scenes still have some amusing moments, but the performers push too hard and the end result is rather tiresome. A good portion of the blame for this has to rest with director Alex Timbers, who has not found the right solution for best conveying the show’s arc.
Near-Verbrugghe is the most consistently entertaining member of the cast, although the two women can also be quite funny. Sound designer Mark Huang has done a fantastic job underscoring the action at key moments for both atmospheric and campy effect. Wilson Chin’s set design does a fine job conveying the cramped basement lab where Jules and Jo are stranded, and Marcus Doshi’s lighting is nicely done.