Nestled in the back corner of the Museum of Contemporary Art's asymmetrical open space is a door that for one month will lead to Miami's apocalypse. Beginning this Thursday, audiences can dip into a play that wrestles with the question: What am I leaving behind when I die?
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's Boom is a comedy that tells the story of Jo, a straightforward journalism student, and Jules, an awkward marine biologist, whose uncomfortable attempt at casual sex ends up saving their lives but leaving the fate of humanity in their hands (and reproductive organs).
The play has been interpreted all over the country to positive reviews, but artistic director Oleg Kheyfets is determined to make this iteration a lively snapshot of present-day Miami. Aiding him in this quest are the local disco-funk favorites of Afrobeta, who composed the funky and mysterious soundtrack, which they will perform live.
Cuci Amador, Afrobeta's vocalist, also stars as Barbara, Boom's guiding voice from the future. She explains to the audience how civilization persevered and became an underwater society. In many ways, this is Barbara's story. If this were a Greek tragedy, Barbara would be our chorus, directing us through the various levels of disaster the characters face.
"Barbara is very Miami," says Amador, who grew up in Miami's University Park neighborhood near FIU. "I grew up in a microcosm with just Hispanics — that Miamified me."
Kheyfets has been living in Miami since
Nicole Fernandez, who plays Jo, agrees. She was born and raised a Miami Cuban but moved to New York City to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. "You can get a little lost down here," she says. "We're trying to find what's underneath."
Though Kheyfets says he didn't intend for the play to carry a political or environmental message, the timing is still appropriate. "When I told my designer that I want to do a show about what will be left from us when we die, he called me and said, 'You know what will be left from us? Plastic,' " Kheyfets says.
The set walls are lined with hundreds of recycled large plastic jugs and bottles that were crowdsourced in mid-November. It doesn't seem like a cozy wall to be pressed up against during a make-out session, but who can be comfortable during the end of the world? The finished look is a claustrophobic submarine/fish tank hybrid. It's a mad scientist's dungeon lair — a perfect setting for Jo and Jules' awkward first meeting.
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But in the initial ten minutes of the play, Jules and Jo have already stripped down to their underwear and straddle each other in bed. The end times are nigh, and blood is already pumping.
Boom, though chaotic and complex, reminds the audience to embrace the present and is sure to entertain for its entire 90-minute
Thursday, January 7, through Sunday, January 31, with performances Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m., at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami. Tickets cost $35. Call 305-677-9200 or visit thebasementproject.org.