Jean Tay’s“Boom” tells the story of an elderly woman and her property agent son in Singapore, who are struggling with the government wanting to reclaim their family home along with the pressure from their neighbours. An idealistic civil servant, Jeremiah, is facing the greatest challenge of his career—persuading a reluctant corpse to yield its memories and accept the exhumation of its body in an effort to put in a new building. This is a tale in which humanity gets left behind for the advancement of society, and the grief we feel from the loss of any kind.
Review and Verdict
A wonderful story which will make audiences laugh, relate and feel empathy for each of the characters- “Boom” is wonderfully performed, directed and produced. When a play can induce such emotion and feelings it is a sign of the exceptional teamwork between the cast and those working behind the scenes. Most of the actors played a number of different characters and executed each performance with precision. The actors who played only one character, convincingly did so, making their character very layered and complex. A 90 minute production, went so fast as though it was only an hour.
My personal rating would be 4.5 stars out of 5.
Now, let’s get to a special feature of this piece. Being Asian Australian, prior to checking out “Boom” interviewed one of the main cast members Melissa Gan (White Pearl, Sydney Theatre Company and All His Beloved Children, KXT). Her performance in “Boom” demonstrated her acting abilities and he skill in walking up and down a big long box in high heels! In any case, let’s find out a bit more about Gan, who is she and what is she all about?
“I prefer to be called Mel. I grew up in Singapore, and first came to Australia in 2018 – living in Melbourne. At the start of last year, I moved to Sydney. I am all about experiencing and sharing love, joy and fun with people. And I do that in my craft as an actor by storytelling, acting and dancing. I love to engage with people and performing is my way of showing this”, Gan stated.
Gan plays a number of roles in “Boom”, including a young mother and a government department director. Very diverse roles and integral to the play and it’s story. As someone from the outside watching in, performing more than one character in a live stage play is no easy feat. How can someone in an instant change their expressions, emotions and tone to play a character totally different from the other. This question was posed to Gan, who discussed that she physically approaches playing her characters and that physical aspect is a reminder to her of who she is playing.
“I thank my dance background for being able to give me the skills of performing different characters. That is why I approach the characters I play very physically. What I mean is that during rehearsals, I would ask myself how my characters would stand on stage, how do they move their arms and hands and how do they walk. I also ask myself, what habits do they have – like do they and how do they touch their hair etc. after memorising my lines its all about the physical and for me that is the best way to remember who and when I play a particular character”, Gan expressed.
Following this line of questioning, Gan spoke about whether she did and how she injected part of herself into the characters she plays in “Boom”. She stated that in each of the three characters she played they all took a small bit of her own personality. Some characters more than others. In terms of the which part, it was hard for her to pinpoint, however she did mention how she was able to differentiate each of the three characters she plays in “Boom”.
“Interesting question. I will be honest with you – I know that I do inject myself in all the characters I play but what part of me changes each time I play the characters, so pinpointing the what is hard. However, I can say the main challenge is differentiating each of the three characters I play and which part of myself do I want to put in each of them. It changes in every performance. I will also find moments to add the cheeky parts of myself, crack jokes and just have fun. I think that is most important”.
Finally, what are Gan’s thoughts on Asian Australian representation on stage. Has it improved or is there still a long way to go?
“I feel like it is a bit of both because pre COVID there were so few Asian Australian projects. Now, yes there definitely is more and that is due to the hard work of Asian Australians who are putting their stories out there. We are definitely doing well right now and the quality of stories that have been put on stage have been stellar. The Asian Australian theatre community is small and tight knit, but we all support one another and I think that is the key to the improvements. Hopefully from here on in we will see more.