Fringe By Numbers: Day Seven, "Boom"
Day Seven: 5:30 p.m. Time Slot
Company: IL Productions
Venue: U of M Rarig Center Arena
Die Roll: 9
Sitting in the darkness as this play begins the audience is treated to a selection of rules supposedly representing a list of rules on the proper use of bombs. The final rule prior to the show's actual beginning is "When choosing between two bombs, always listen to your heart."
The main character of this play really listened to that rule. You see, he lives in a world in which bombs can do so much more than blow things up. In the reality of this play, the world has advanced to a point at which our technology often depends on bombs to do basic tasks. Bombs can paint walls, or mow the lawn, or control pests (the life goal of the main character is to create a non-killing bug bomb, of sorts).
This is a one-man show, and so when I speak of characters, I am still only speaking of the creations of one man: Andrew Connor. He is a remarkably talented actor who jumps from characterization to characterization in a split second. And each one is unique and instantly identifiable. Because he is able to jump characters so easily and he maintains a solid storyline throughout, we are treated to an episodic science-fiction tale that really works in the dramatic form.
At the crux of this play is Louie's joblessness. Louie is a bomb maker (the aforementioned one whose goal is to create a butterfly bomb). He is out of work and about to be evicted from his house until an old acquaintance offers him a job working for a massive corporation that is slowly taking over Louie's home town. Despite some reticence on his own part, Louie takes the job which includes designing bombs to get rid of the competition (but not blowing them up).
Not unlike many of the best science fiction works, this piece is a reflection upon our own time and a satirical treatment of some of today's most important issues. By portraying the mayor of the town and his secretary Connor shows the ineffectiveness of a government that is more worried about poll results and the like than what would actually be best for the people. He explores corporate greed and lust for power, and the entitlement that corporations exercise once they have that power. And he comments on labor relations and how workers are often treated as a commodity rather than people.
The show is something special. As an audience member I bought into the created world immediately. I was completely willing to believe in this future world that had many of the same problems that we do today. And I found the somewhat Ayn Rand-like ending very fulfilling. To work so hard on something and then choose how to destroy it is a poetic, if very final act (not exactly something straight out of The Fountainhead, but close enough for me).
Rating: d20 = One Of The Best
Ten Word Summary: Louie builds bombs. Andrew Connor doesn't. This play won't bomb.