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Oh, Craigslist. Just look at what you've done.

As the instigating event of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's boom, a vague online personal ad brings Jo (Jaye Stellini) to Jules's (Jeffery J. Steger) bomb-shelter basement laboratory/apartment seeking anonymous sex. (Red flags, anyone?) Indeed, what happens goes well beyond any convention of boy meets girl: Jules, believing a comet is about to wipe out the human race, seals them together in the lab, hoping to convince Jo to be the Eve to his Adam. As each worst-case scenario is somehow trumped by an even worse one, this Breathe Art Theatre Project comedy (directed by Diane Hill) cleanly cycles through genres with each added piece of context, from opposites-attract first date to threatening hostage situation to animals refusing to mate in captivity to abject post-apocalyptic hopelessness. For that's the really funny thing about Jules's catastrophic prediction…he was right.

The shock and tragedy don't manage to bind together this wholly incompatible pair — if this is the way the world ends, it is not with a bang. Regardless, the characters’ preposterous interactions are fresh and fun to watch: Stellini's Jo is jaded and surly to the hilt, albeit kind of sweet; Steger's socially inept loner provides the voice of reason with a hint of Norman Bates. The actors have a thrown-together chemistry that serves the material and gives them each jokes at the other’s expense.

Although these two may be the only surviving people in the world, they're somehow not the only ones in this play. Valerie Bonasso's cleanly arranged set includes a tiny control room in one corner, from which one Barbara (Courtney Burkett) oversees the action and lends occasional raised eyebrows. In addition to the craftily comprehensive lighting (Sergio Forest) and sound, Barbara appends her own bells and whistles — not literal bells or whistles, but certainly a fuse box, maracas, a tambourine, triangles, and a rain stick (exhaustive props and costumes by assistant director Barbie Weisserman). Hill handles these occasional supplementations and interruptions well, throwing focus where it belongs and ensuring that the main story has a natural flow — or at least as natural as can be expected in a play in which one character briefly dies, repeatedly, for reasons not completely understood.

Finally, if the zig-zagging narrative reveals weren't enough to comprehend, out storms Barbara to add a triumphantly nutso layer to the already-suspect proceedings. In a few deft moves, Burkett makes the story about her instead of her subjects, and her coming apart is superb. It's difficult to find nuance in wide-eyed desperation, but her finely honed physicality and barely restrained facial expressions wring hilarity out of a supposedly peripheral character, who easily drives this doomsday story to its what-just-happened? finish.

If the above sounds all over the place, that’s because the play itself is, in a very good way. The surprises keep on coming throughout this brief single-act production, as quickly appearing to be one thing as it morphs into another. The swift sea changes in tone and content are clearly laid out and quite easy to follow, but the sheer number and speed and bizarre nature of them gives the audience a lot to think back on and piece together after the fact. Yet as absurd as boom is, it’s also absurdly funny; viewers who require traditional stories may take a pass, but it’s a succulent morsel for those who crave offbeat and off-the-wall.


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