By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
What happens to Jules, Jo and those prescient fish in the lab aquarium over the play's fast-moving 85 minutes isn't as sitcom-linear or as Twilight Zone-y as you might expect. The story circles in on itself, thanks to a separate meta-narrative provided by a third character, Barbara (a desperately likable Karen Parrish). She's a sort of museum curator who controls the actions of Jules and Jo with a set of levers and electronic kettle drums from her godlike perch across the room (the highly stylized scenery is by Bryan Wofford). Everything we're seeing in boom is conjecture, Barbara tells us. Like those first chapters of Genesis.
Raising questions about evolution and the origins and future of our species, boom, the most produced new play in American theaters this season, feels fresh and clever but is almost too flip about how its characters interact. Nachtrieb, one of those hot young San Francisco playwrights everyone wants to produce (Second Thought Theatre just completed its run of his Hunter Gatherers), is too aware of his own ingenuity as he juggles scientific jargon and the male-female dynamic. And maybe he's not as smart as he thinks he is. He's written Jo as a fatalist, but isn't it women who have stronger survival instincts?
End Days continues through February 27 at the Bath House Cultural Center. Call 214-904-0500.
boom continues through March 13 at Kitchen Dog Theater at The MAC. Call 214-953-1055.
Knock, knock. Who's there? Armageddon. Armageddon who? Armageddon outta here.