- OnStage New York Theatre Critic
This is the worst play I have seen in my entire life. Here, I said it despite the risk of sounding unprofessional. But I hate feeling like I was spit on when coming out of the theater. It is pointless and harmful to continue producing “In the Boom Boom Room”, written by David Rabes in 1973. The play about a delusional go-go dance girl from Philadelphia enjoyed a Broadway run in 1973, as well as a Tony nomination for Best Play in 1974. The current revival produced by the Chain Theatre is an inadequate crippled mess, stuck in time and the fantasies of one’s sick mind.
Chrissy (Nina Kassa) dreams of being a ballet dancer in New York, but for now has to work as a go-go dancer in a bar called the Boom Boom Room. A troubled relationship with her mother (Malikha Mallette), a father (Pete Mattaliano) who most likely molested her as a child, and inability to lock the front door of her apartment, sets up the girl for trouble. Every time another suitor bangs on the flimsy door with a swimsuit hanging from the knob, Kassa clutches her head with her hands in panic, but then lets everybody in anyway and listens to them, jamming her brows together very intensely.
A confused girl with no boundaries and low self-esteem looks for support and friendship in her downstairs gay neighbor, Guy (Deven Anderson), and a go-go bar MC, Sally (Cori Stolbun). Both the characters and actors portraying them are the only gulps of fresh air in the entire show. Anderson, even sweating and shaking nervously, gives a sincere performance and looks both funny and vulnerable in a playboy bunny suite (costume design by Barbara Erin Delo). Stolbun is charming as an empowered woman of the 70s. Unfortunately the play discards them as unsuitable companions for Chrissy.
Two and a half hours drag on forever and you feel like you are eating dirt for every minute of it. I am not a prude and understand what a “period piece” is, but even as such, “In the Boom Boom Room” is unbearably vulgar, suffocating and vile. If you are feeding your audience with heavy sexist, racist and perverted bullshit, you need to have some sort of relief from it, whether it’s in the plot itself or done through stylization. There needs to be some space to breath, which the Chain Theatre’s production lacks entirely. Add to that inarticulate direction and sloppy acting and you will get a formula for a theatrical failure and a ruined night.
Under the direction of Greg Cicchino for the Chain Theatre, the cast features Deven Anderson, Kirk Gostkowski, Nina Kassa, Kyle Kirkpatrick, Malikha Mallette, Pete Mattaliano, Christina Elise Perry, Tyler Reed, Cori Stolbun, Alexandra Tabas, Tina Marie Tanzer, and Paul Terkel.
“In the Boom Boom Room” runs through May 6th at the American Theater of Actors, 314 West 54 Street, on the 4th floor. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets are $18 and are available through www.chaintheatre.org or by calling 866-811-4111. Photo: CHRISTINA ELISE PERRY (center) as Susan with Dancers in David Rabe's IN THE BOOM BOOM ROOM Photos: Matt Wells and Victor Andrew Heras