The stage is dark and lightly clouded with fog—in the distance, a dense heap of jumbled objects signals the end of systems and uses. Booms Day brings us into the story of a Girl (KC Bevis), who, equipped with little more than her boom box and her big pink glittering heart, must find friends and family in the lonely vacancy of an undefined postapocalyptic event.
Booms DayThrough 9/10: Fri-Sat 7 PM, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, chicagodancecrash.com, $25 ($15 children 12 and under)
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Conceived and written by Chicago Dance Crash executive director Mark Hackman and directed by artistic director Jessica Deahr, Booms Day is a high-energy show for a powerhouse ensemble choreographed by James Gregg, Jimmy Weeden, Bevis, Annie Franklin, and Deahr in collaboration with the cast of 14 dancers. The soundtrack seamlessly mixes selections from the Carpenters, Sufjan Stevens, Leonard Cohen, Kanye West, the Police, and more. Much of the story is contained in the sound of the show, which evokes varieties of nostalgia as shifts in mood, and a voiceover narrative consisting of the Girl recounting her adventures in a lisping babytalk (by Molly Harris) to a bass-voiced interlocutor (the Asker, voiced by Christian Castro) as she moves from abandonment to community.
Most of the Girl’s story is simply naming the other characters to roles in relation to herself: Boyfriend (Logan Howell), Roommates (Kelsey Reiter and Monternez Rezell), Soulmate (Diamond Burdine). The conflict arises from the contradiction of Boyfriend and Soulmate existing in separate bodies, a problem echoed and magnified by the presence of a parallel band of “Baddies,” headed by a “Mean Man” (Weeden), who are determined to overwhelm and impress whoever they encounter into their gang of darkness (without even asking! says the Girl). Why can’t everyone peacefully coexist in proximity but not possession, companionship but not commitment? However, other than the Girl’s conviction in her categorizations, these roles rarely manifest in the movement, where every dancer is virtuosic but only briefly emerges individually in glimpses of solo expression.
The evening goes down easier if you overlook the premise and focus on the action, a string of martial arts-style episodes that are cinematic in quality, relentless in pace.