Riverside – Boom, a playful riff on fish, sex and disaster, opens October 29 at Riverside Theatre. Written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, the show is directed by Bruce Wheaton, who along with Jody Hovland and Ron Clark founded Riverside Theatre in 1981.
In this “explosive” comedy, a grad student studying fish behavior lures a journalism student to his subterranean research lab with a Craigslist advertisement for no strings attached sex. But when their date coincides with a comet striking the planet, their interactions take on evolutionary significance and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.
Riverside will host a Thursday Theatre Talk on Thursday, October 21 at 5:30 to complement the upcoming production. What kind of world do we see on stage in Boom? Who or what is in control? And what do fish and sex and impending doom have to do with each other? Miriam Gilbert, UI Dept. of English, and Taryne Taylor, Ph.D. student in English, with a special interest in feminist issues and science fiction, will discuss the play and possible contexts. The talk will take place at Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert Street, Iowa City. The event is free and open to the public.
The playwright’s background in both biology and theatre shine in a play that’s smart and cheeky. “His treatment of ideas—even big ideas—is playful,” Wheaton said. “Ideas are launched like little rockets. They collide; they flare; they burst into jokes—some of which would’ve made my mom blush.”
Scot West, who last performed at Gilbert Street in 2005 as Happy in Death of a Salesman, plays marine biologist and personal ad poster Jules. Kalen Harriman, who appeared in both the Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival and last season’s Mary’s Wedding plays journalist Jo. Riverside artistic director Jody Hovland plays Barbara, a narrator-slash-museum docent who plays the timpani, pulls levers and interjects commentary throughout the course of the comedy.
“The relationship between Barbara and the two young adults becomes clearer as this high octane play races on,” said Wheaton. “Nachtrieb is an exuberant playwright and has laid out his track so that every tire-screeching turn is surprising and funny. Maybe after the ride is over folks will ask each other, ‘Say, did that play really end up the way I think it did?’ And, of course, the answer will be ‘yup.’”
Boom also features scenic design by Riverside technical director Shawn Johnson, lighting design by Courtney Schmitz Watson, costume design by Laura Ambrose, and sound design by Bruce Wheaton. T
Tickets range from $12-$26 with a $12 student rush 20 minutes before the performance. Tickets may be ordered through the Riverside Theatre Box Office at 213 N. Gilbert St., (319) 338-7672.