Bullets from finger guns hit flailing bodies with such precision that you can almost see the arc of the imaginary bullet.
Okay. That wasn’t the most well-reasoned argument. I’m a bit flustered. BLAM! is a flustering play. That’s a good thing. Most plays are draining, mentally and emotionally. After BLAM! I actually had more energy than when I went in.
That’s due to the fantastic output of physical theatrical energy in the show. A Danish company has brought this to the Fringe, but it’s accessible because, somewhat uniquely, it is a play with no real dialogue. Mono-syllabic noises and body language are all that is necessary to convey the simple story. Four office drones slowly decide they’d have more fun playing around than working, which leads into a series of increasingly elaborate movie pastiches and perfectly choreographed fight scenes. Still, there is a conflict, the characters are distinct and interesting, and the way they communicate those feature is an impressive display of physical storytelling.
The stage combat really is something else. Part of the reason it works is that it always is “play-fighting”, so when they don’t visibly hit each other, that’s because they aren’t doing that in the world of the play. What they have done is mastered the art of the reaction. Bullets from finger guns hit flailing bodies with such precision that you can almost see the arc of the imaginary bullet.
It’s not pure action, though. It’s a comedy, really, full of subtle movie references, physical humour, and moments of realization where the luxurious style is toned down for long enough to laugh at the ridiculousness of four grown men throwing paper at each other when they’re supposed to be working.
Then the props come in. If BLAM! has a theme, it’s that imagination is never out of style, and this is where that idea shines. Rolling carts become cars, file folders become robot armor, and coat racks become Gatling guns, assisted by a spinning motion and a well-timed sound effect. The sound helped immerse me in what the characters are hearing, though I thought the quality was somewhat poor.
That’s a small blemish on an otherwise superb technical performance. Set was expansive, with four whole cubicles, a raised level, and enough office accouterment to serve as props for over an hour of brilliant madness. There are more technical surprises, some of which still boggle my mind, but I’ll leave you to discover them yourself.