In 2009 and ’10, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s BOOM was one of the most produced plays in America. It has taken eight years, but the hit comedy finally receives its UK premiere this summer at Theatre 503 in a production led by former Skins star Will Merrick.
In the three-person comic play, Will Merrick plays marine biologist Jules. When he places an ad offering “sex to change the course of the world”, it attracts the attention of Jo. But Jules’s meaning is far more literal than she realises.
We quiz Will Merrick about the show and discover a top tip for visiting the theatre on rainy days:
How would you describe BOOM?
Boom is an anti-romcom with an apocalyptic twist. It features a very unlikely couple and also a woman hiding in the shadows with various pieces of percussion. It’s very weird and wonderful. It asks the biggest questions of us as people, and as animals, and is very funny, too.
Why did you want to be part of the production?
I read the script and it was hilarious. A lot of new writing I see for theatre at the moment is pretty dark and quite intense stuff. Which I love. But this was a brilliantly written comedy. It’s proper thought-out comedy with some big twists and turns. It’s crazy and weird and very moving… in a kind of scientific way.
How would you describe your character, Jules?
He’s a pretty isolated guy. Driven, hard-working, but lacking in social awareness and graces. He’s a great anti-hero and is continuously putting his foot in it. I relate to him.
Is there an audience that would particularly enjoy this show?
It’s a great “date play”. We’ve got some partial nudity, drumming and scientific theories, so…
What has surprised you about the production during rehearsals?
How physical the show actually is. We’re always on the move.
How do you feel about performing at Theatre 503?
I’ve always loved the intimacy of the space. I’m really excited to play it. It’s a brilliant hub for new writing, too, so it’s a perfect fit. Also the bar.
What was your first experience of theatre?
Probably some panto in my local town. My Nan used to take me. She was in them as well. She played Baby Spice in a comedy sketch night. She had the sequinned Union Jack dress, the lot. Was that Baby? Yeah, she killed it. I bloody love her.
Why is live performance so special?
That’s a big question. Probably because of how much fun it can be for everyone in the room. It’s a shared joy, hopefully. Or a shared pain. Also valid.
Apart from Theatre 503, what’s your favourite London theatre and why?
I love Orange Tree Theatre. I love seeing work in the round. It’s great fun to play, too. I think there’s some wicked stuff coming out of there at the moment. I hope it continues.
What one piece of advice would you give aspiring performers?
Throw yourself at everything. You will find something in everything you do, even if it’s just a new perspective.
What’s your top tip for a trip to the theatre?
Don’t come in a cagoule. You’re going to forget to take it off before the start, and then it sounds like someone is unwrapping a present in the audience. Buy a real coat. A quiet one.