Presented by Kidoons and WYRD Productions in association with Crow’s Theatre, Theatre Calgary, and The 20K Collective
Nostalgia isn’t Rick Miller’s ultimate purpose here, but as a Gen-X boy who finds himself suddenly middle-aged, this multi-media trip through my generation’s culture made me mighty wistful! BOOM X is an audio-visual whirlwind, a delightful blend of verbatim theatre and punchy, anecdotal history lesson.
This second installment in his BOOM trilogy is an affectionate, high-octane odyssey into some of the significant world events from 1970 through the mid-1990s. Woven into the timeline are stories from four fellow Gen-Xers, each plucked from different points along the defined era. Music functions as both guide and connective tissue.
Miller is a charmer, no question. I can’t imagine not immediately falling under his spell; you’d have to be made of stone, an immovable cynic. His affable presence aside, he’s a gifted storyteller with an astonishing knack for mimicry. Adopting the persona of politicians, musicians, and even his own friends, he captures not just the prominent quality of their voice, but the more subtle, evocative rhythms too.
Wigs and jackets fly on and off as he serves up Pierre Trudeau and Tina Turner to Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose. His portrayals are heightened and flamboyant yet never mocking. We can’t help but laugh when he indulges in some celebrity pantomime; the hilarity, though, isn’t ridicule, only the pure, unfiltered joy of shared acknowledgement and appreciation.
Shout out to video and projection designers Nicolas Dostie and Irina Litvinenko for their immersive visuals. The video footage and animations provide a colourful, dynamic environment for Miller in which the rise and fall of disco, punk, the oil crisis, Watergate, the Cold War, synth-pop, MTV and the FLQ crisis get referenced in fast-paced info-dumps that remind me of those Pop Up Video bubbles.
I’d love to check out the first and third entries in this series: BOOM, chronicling the music of his parent’s generation; and BOOM XY, which delves into the pop culture era of his daughters’ experience.
BOOM X is a buoyant, celebratory spectacle. I was enchanted from start to finish, but perhaps my favourite bit of stagecraft is his persuasive recreation of A-ha’s iconic, sketchy Take On Me video.