BLAM IS A blast! This energetic, frenetic, wildly inventive, often hysterically funny production from Icelandic director Kristján Ingimarsson’s Neander company is a compelling evening’s entertainment. On at Sadler’s Wells Peacock theatre, it’s billed as “Die Hard Meets the Office”. That sort of describes what the production is all about.
The setting is that of an average, boring, bland office – one of those offices with low partitions so well loved by office planners with no money and less imagination and positioned to staff as “open plan seating”. It is here that three bored young men, trudging through a sedentary day of mindlessly monitoring glowing monitors and monitored themselves by a grim overlord supervisor, drift into daydream. The boom of a gurgling water-cooler seems to set things in motion when, as we enter into their (very boyish) daydream, things turn to mayhem. It starts when one of the young men sticks his hands into an empty desk file organizer which turns him (according to the wonderful sound track to which the production is choreographed) into Iron Man.
And thus begins the start of the mayhem and the story, which (and I may have gotten the sequence of events screwed up, not that that matters much) morphs from Iron Man to Grand Theft Auto, where a hat stand turns into a gatling gun and a paper tube into a bazooka. From this we enter the shoot-out of Reservoir Dogs via the center of a kung-fu, slow-mo, flying dragon battle scene that leads past a fist fight from The Matrix performed by Abbot and Costelloe to Wall-e, who, dying like ET needs an emergency operation to literally spark him to life just as the heroic surgeon turns into the Hulk who has to battle the Wolverine, where pencils have become those famous adamantine claws, before the dread droids and transformers wreck the place. By this time the rear half of the stage has lifted off and, initially shifts to an acute angle from which the performers slide, fall and miraculously walk about, like the sliding deck of the sinking Titanic only (for the stage) to then turn entirely vertical, like an image from the Poseidon Adventure.
Neander bills itself as physical theatre. And they ain’t kidding. These immensely fit, agile performers are a combination of Marcel Marceau, Jacky Chan, Buster Keaton, Cirque de Soleil, Matthew Bourne and the Wachowski Brothers. At the same time. They effortlessly combine mime, stunts, dance, acrobatics and slapstick to fling the audience – joyously – into the heavy metalled, cinematic, pop coloured escapist world of three bored young men.
There’s a deeper idea driving this merry madness, that considers the extent to which our fantasies and our imaginings are so shaped by the contemporary culture around us; perhaps it is something that both neutralizes individuality and is a kind of Higgs boson binding us together
That said, this is a not to be missed experience that finished on 16th November. Hurry hurry!