I’ve little doubt that I’d have a lot of fun with a pony who knows one-trick but it’s safe to say that it would eventually get tiresome. I might shake things up a bit by having it do its trick in a top hat but then I would remove the top hat and realise that, all along, it was just a pony that was doing the same trick but this time in a top hat. Such is how I feel about Blam! It has tapped into a simplistic but effective formula: let’s find something that the audience like and do it time and time and time again - and when we think we might need to shake it up, let’s put a top hat on to convince the audience that they’re watching something different.
It’s the age-old story: the three young male employees, all non-verbal, are bored at work and are finding ways to pass the time by indulging in a series of boyish fantasies about superheroes, spies and a range of other assorted characters. The boss wants in, because he seems to prize popularity over a smooth-running business. I can only assume they’re saving his redundancy for the sequel.
The show moves from quiet distractions in the office through to minor scenes of gunplay and finally to a manic and explosive ending. What Blam! does well, it does very well. As the performers progress through these stories, they work to a soundtrack to which they have choreographed slick and dynamic actions. They are innovative in their use of props - all general office amenities representing various weapons, equipment and love interests - and in their lighting and sound design. They throw themselves over cubicle walls and onto trolleys, responding to every gunshot, every punch and every effect with a sharp attentiveness. Then when attention might start to dip, they put the top hat on the pony: the elevated stage begins to tilt and their skits become more dynamic still.
In periods between the early skits, the music falls away and a quiet, Pythonesque slapstick takes over. Yet as the play progresses, they become less and less willing to indulge in these intermissions. It becomes clear that moments of détente would allow us to clear our heads of the loud physicality and distractions therein, and reveal to us that this isn’t actually a great piece of theatre. One audience member left the auditorium championing its ‘boyish charm’ but there is a line between boyish charm and four men having you pay to watch them messing around on a stage. This certainly inclines towards the latter. If that is enough to entertain you: great, go for it. Still, at least recognise that this is the reason so many Transformers films are being made.
As the show ends, the four guys spend some time high-fiving each other, hugging and laughing. This, for me, was the show in a self-congratulatory nutshell. If you take away the blam, you’ll realise there’s not much to Blam!