As audience members we watch the story unfold and suck in the atmosphere around us. We are quiet observers in the theater and once we leave we become storytellers in our own ways, sharing what we saw with others as we make our way out of an emptying theater.
I’ve found stories are often best told when they have a little passion behind them and Williamston Theatre’s seventh season opener, “boom,” is told with a passionate fire that thankfully doesn’t burn out.
The story, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and directed by Tony Caselli, is one that is literally from another time and place and has more layers to it than originally anticipated. What starts out as a comedy about a man thinking the world will end turns into a play that questions who are we, what are we doing with our lives and how much control we have over them.
As the show begins a woman (Sarab Kamoo) with a nametag that reads “Barbara” enters the room. She seems tense, slightly agitated and unfocused at whatever the task at hand is and makes her way to the second floor. Quickly, much like us, Barbara becomes a silent observer watching from above as a girl named Jo (Alissa Nordmoe) and a guy named Jules (Aral Gribble) enter.
Turns out that Jo has answered Jules Craiglist ad for “sex to change the course of the world.” Both quickly find out that each has a hidden agenda behind this “casual encounter.” What ensues after is a funny, moving and poignant show in a way only one at Williamston could be.
Moments that have you laughing quickly turn into one where you’re fighting back tears and hear a hush come over an audience that minutes before was laughing so much it seemed as if the actors had to stop.
Gribble, whose most recent Williamston work includes “Red, White and Tuna,” is fantastic as grad student Jules. I’ve gotten the joy of seeing Gribble perform before and this one combines the best of what he does. He’s funny, he’s slightly serious, he makes me want to give his character a big hug and for a brief hilarious moment a little creepy.
Nordmoe may have had her first Williamston performance with a Williamston giant, Gribble, but she quickly shows she can hold her own. Jo’s tightly wound, willing to do anything for a story and constantly questioning so many aspects of her life, like many people I know.
Kamoo is no slouch either. She is probably the quirkiest of the bunch, and that’s saying something, but she never over does it, easing viewers into a world that is a little, well a lot, different than this current one. Warning Kamoo can get teary-eyed on cue like no one I’ve seen.
The set, with scenic design by Janine Woods Thoma, brings viewers in to a realistic looking research lab, and is one of the largest, and most technical, I’ve seen at Williamston. Prop designer Bruce Bennett adds many elements to the full set, bringing it all the more alive.
Nachtrieb’s script, and this production, is an extremely smart show that brings a whole new meaning to storytelling and will make any viewer wonder how they will go on telling theirs.