Doomsday preppers: people who ready themselves and their homes for survival in the event of an apocalypse. Who are they? What prompts their strange behaviour? These are the questions posed by The Wax House in their compelling production of Doom’s Day. The company’s extensive interviews with Joseph Badame, a former prepper, grant a rare insight into how and why someone would dedicate their life to preparing for the worst. With his wife Phyllis, Joseph converted his basement into a survival den that could keep the masses alive, but when tragedy struck, Joseph was forced to acknowledge that some of life’s most devastating scenarios just can’t be prepared for.
A sense of apocalyptic chaos is powerfully created
Doom’s Day is choicely rough around the edges. Multiple actors play Joseph and they break out of character to discuss him and offer advice on shaping the role. Joseph’s ideas may be strange, but he never feels mocked and is always conveyed sympathetically. By mouthing along to Skype interviews with him at certain points in the show, the performers create Joseph as an immediate presence. Many who share his visions may be cast aside as ‘weirdos’ or considered impossible to relate to, but that never happens in this performance as The Wax House locate the universality within his story. The end is heart-warming, but Doom’s Day refuses sentimentality by rounding off with a chilling twist.
Inventive staging evokes excellent suspense throughout, perhaps to reflect the anticipation of disaster that Joseph lived by. A sense of apocalyptic chaos is powerfully created during scenes of riots and natural disasters. I was initially concerned that the containers used as scenery may prove cumbersome or difficult to move, but I’m pleased to say I was wrong as the production flitted between settings with ease.
I left Doom’s Day feeling absorbed by a story I would never have heard without this performance. Joseph’s life has been, and continues to be, bizarre, but The Wax House brilliantly emphasise how touching his narrative can be if told in the right way. This show is wild and zany, but it never feels inhuman.