Boom reminds me of a survey course of a given time period. Through the interweaving of three perspectives, we get a sense of what it was like to have lived through and to have grown up as a baby boomer. Through Rudy, a European immigrant, Lawrence, an African American blues singer, and Rick’s own mother, a nice white Canadian girl from Coburg Ontario, we get a sense of what that period evolved from and evolved into, some of the main zeitgeists if you will.
As someone on the cusp of Gen-X and the Millennials, I saw the show’s message as the fact that in the end, there is ultimately nothing new under the sun, that we should understand the past in order to understand the future, sociologically. That the cycle of technological advances, youth counterculture, rebellion, scapegoating of ethnic groups, war, fear, marketing, all of the constructs that are so ruthlessly regretted by Boomers in the present were all there when they came of age, and that the solid rejection of them now are the highest form of hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness. This is not just a celebration. This is a reality check.
While the material is at times critical and often punctures some of the carefully crafted illusions that Boomers hold about their uniqueness, it’s still a bit of a nostalgia piece. Your parents will love it, even as they refuse to grapple with some challenging concepts, such as the likening of the American civil rights movement to that of the Québecois Quiet Revolution, which caused audible scoffing in the audience. The play is very ambitious, and doesn’t just focus on American history, which I personally appreciated, especially the European context, which I was not as familiar with.
This one man show is executed flawlessly. Rick Miller is at the top of his game, embodying multiple characters at a rapid-fire clip, and nailing the iconic songs of the time period. Also, the design elements and use of the scrim and projections is very well done. This is a precise, interesting and intentional use of the set, and wasn’t just flash for flash’ sake. For a touring show especially, this has a solid professional level of production value.
This is a show for a very wide audience. There is good spectacle, and laughs, and history, and a notable performance by Rick Miller. Was it my cup of tea, no. However, it is a quality show that will resonate with a large segment of the audience.
Boom is playing at the Segal Center for the Arts (5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine) from March 20th to April 10th, 2016. Prices available here.