nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
August 9, 2008
Kaboom! is a poor man's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and it is too bad. It's set in San Francisco, tomorrow, where we meet a group of quirky characters with the potential for hilarity, the cornerstone being Rodney. Having made a deal with the corporation that is "Hell," Rodney has returned from the dead (he was shot in the head by the cops 11 years prior) to continue to scam the good, clueless, fame-hungry citizens of San Fran. He gathers up his flunky, Bobo, and concocts a scheme.
He has obtained the recipe for a new drug called Krokk, that is sort of a cross of Viagra and Ecstasy. (Actually, I wondered why the play was titled Kaboom! and not "Krokk.") Like any typical villain he leaves to round up his usual suckers—Kandy, the talentless California Bike Messenger who is looking for her big break, and Judy, a California housewife who uses holistic techniques to hopefully obtain material possessions—and his bumbling sidekick is left to mix the potentially explosive ingredients that make up the drug, which of course, explode, blinding poor Bobo. Yet, throughout the course of the show, the actor portraying the character could not seem to play BLIND. He even had sunglasses on and it was painfully obvious that he could see.
Those kinds of small details can make or break a show like this. Sometimes, when performing a farcical comedy theatre artists can forget what makes up good theatre and the things that make the characters human are left by the wayside. This was absolutely the case with Kaboom! At some points the actors actually seemed to be mocking themselves.
Part of this could be due to the dated script by Michael W. Small. With countless pop references including political figures, notable natural disasters, hyped-up fads, and of course Britney Spears, this show has actually made itself a period piece. In a year, even the best jokes will not be funny any more. Another problem could have been the weak attempt at social commentary. Pop culture is always ripe for ridicule, but really what is the point? Anyone who reads an AM New York newspaper on the train once a week has heard all these jabs before.
The set design by Travis McHale left me wanting. There were lots of opportunities to use the boxy, cartoonish background with different positioning and use of space. The part of the show that I most appreciated was the costuming by Ren LaDassor. His use of detail on each costume piece helped the design really stand out. Sparkles on the glasses, wear and tear after an explosion, and best of all Kandy's helmet were the tiny things that showed LaDassor's integrity as an artist.
Overall it seemed as if director BT McNicoll wasn't paying close enough attention. Even with a weak script a good show could go on, especially with this cast! Although there are solid performances from Kristen Cirelli as Judy, Laura Daniel as Kandy, and the very skilled craftsman Ray Willis, it simply wasn't enough to save the show.