Saturday, November 3, 2012

Boom for Real by Jason Tremblay, Paper Chairs at the Museum of Human Achievement, October 25 - November 10

Boom for Real Jason Tremblay Paper Chairs Austin TX

Austin Live Theatre review

by Dr. David Glen Robinson

It was Halloween night and I went to the theatre in costume as I always do. The show was Boom for Real by Jason Tremblay, produced by Paper Chairs. This company has a gift for finding truly unusual but serviceable performance spaces, albeit sometimes hard to find. I tramped through the crushed limestone parking lot of an industrial east Austin construction zone in my wobbly fireman’s boots, uncertain of my balance and vision behind my long-nosed mask and worried that I might be showing too much skin. I am such a typical Austinite.

The venue, by railroad tracks and near the old Blue Theatre (I could see the lights of Weird City Theatre’s Halloween party going on there) was the pretentiously named Museum of Human Achievement. It was a museum wearing a wooden frame warehouse costume. The production was of the multilevel, open-stages type, where the cast changes the set (all set objects are on casters), and lighting cues shift the audience’s focus and attention from scene to scene. A costume rack for the cast stood upstage right. Creative values were very much to the fore, technological artifice a little to the back. 

The heavily costumed audience knew what was expected of them in this twenty-first-century mode and seemed highly appreciative.

The story was set in mythic time and a kind of post-industrial-punk space. The world is drowning in a never-ending fall of ash, straight into the mouths of all the characters. A leading dancer has suffered a disfigurement, and with her single flash-memory chip of magic she banishes dance from the world city, a curse so severe that the word dance is also banned, replaced by the word petunias. The dancer becomes a witch living in a tower above the city, where she can watch and enforce the curse. A young dancer, Boom, played by Ashley Rae Spillers, discovers that it is her fate to bring dance back.

The theme here is ambition, served by its demon servant desire, at many different levels. Desire as lust is well portrayed, but desire for transformation, success, money, alcohol, nicotine and life itself suffuse the story so thoroughly that it is hard to keep track of all the categories. They suffer a blending effect and also cause the story to seem to ramble a bit.

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