Boom – no bomb here

Andrew Connor, sans wig, glasses, sweater vest, suit, skirt and mismatched socks - but with one very red, very big ball.

Had the Fringe Festival brochure mentioned the fact that Andrew Connor is one half of The Cody Rivers Show there probably would have been a larger audience for the opening night performance of his "solo fiction" play Boom.

The Cody River boys (Andrew and co-pilot Mike Mathieu) are from Bellingham, Washington and have become semi-annual favorites here in Victoria for a few years now - their shows are always a delight and the chemistry between them almost spooky.

So how does Connor do on his solo flight?

It's a mixed bag. First of all, Boom is one story as opposed to the multi-sketch approach of Cody Rivers, which means you'd better like the plot because it's not going to change in two or three minutes. Knowing this, Connor has created a simple, yet curious, futuristic morality play. Set sometime in the not too distant future pacifist bomb-maker Lewis has been recruited by an evil multi-conglomerate to sabotage the world-wide competition by disabling their "space ports" with non-exploding (don't ask) bombs. Meanwhile, the conglomerate is building their own port in Lewis' hometown, with the help of German Robots, which puts the local welding union out of work. The city itself is in financial turmoil because the incompetent major has practically bankrupted the burg with a Public-Private-Partnership deal with the multi-national. Sound familiar, Victoria?

As a one-man show it should go without saying that Connor plays all the characters, which can be quite entertaining, but this is now the fourth multi-character-one-man show I've seen at the Fringe this year. And it doesn't always work. In Boom, for example, Connor has at least two characters who seem totally superfluous to the plot. Connor has also made a rather odd choice for his costume - he incorporates bits & pieces of his characters’ outfits and ends up wearing a woman's wig, nerd glasses, a sweater vest over top of a buttoned up business suit and tie, a girl's skirt overtop of a pair of pants which are tucked into a mismatching pair of socks - all at the same time!

It's almost as funny as it is distracting.

On the plus side, if anyone can pull this thing off, it's Connor. His performance is sweet and endearing and he knows how to milk the laughs. There's never any "blur" between the characters, and making things look easy in a mind-bender like Boom is the sign of a true professional. And, knowing his work with The Cody Rivers Show, the bigger the crowds, the stronger he gets.

One note: this performance is one of the few listed as an "all ages" show in this year's Fringe; although it's clean as a whistle, I'm not sure if I would bring the ten-and-under set to see it; they might find it to confusing. My teenage daughter enjoyed the show but also called it "weird...really weird". The Fringe really does need a few more kid friendly shows in the Festival - maybe next year?

Boom; written and performed by Andrew Connor (Bellingham, Washington). Part of the 2008 Victoria Fringe Festival the production continues at Venue 4 (St. Andrews School Gymnasium - 1002 Pandora) on the following dates Wed 27 9:15 • Thu 28 6:00 • Fri 29 9:30 • Sar 30, 5:45 • Sun 31 1:30. For more information blast off to this futuristic website.

By Paul McKinnon