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Bedlam Lowertown Goes KABOOM

Carly Wicks

Carly Wicks

Tales from your favorite comic books come to life this weekend when Steve Ackerman and a team of Bedlamites bring KABOOM to Bedlam Theatre in Lowertown. Using low-tech magic and puppetry, the show, co-directed by Ackerman and Bedlam's Maren Ward, pulls out all the stops amid a cardboard, comic-book cityscape.

See also:

Cartooon brings rubbery, animated physics to the stage

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Ward previously worked with Ackerman on Cartoon!, a puppet show inspired by classic cartoons that was performed at In the Heart of the Beast. Since then, they've collaborated on several other projects, including another puppet show, Science, that debuted at Bedlam's Lowertown grand opening. 

Ward says she's drawn to the absurdism present in Ackerman's work. "It's just delighting in the simplest, funniest things," she says.

KABOOM takes superhero characters as its topic, and uses a low-tech aesthetic. "It's not trying to be fancy or have special effects," Ward says. For example, there are people running across the room with cardboard shoes and lasers. "It's embracing low-tech in the most extreme way, but also being really ambitious."

For the action scenes, the actors use power tools and other random mechanical devices such as a weed wacker, a power saw, kitchen appliances, and a shoe polisher. 

Unlike Cartoon, which started with a script, KABOOM began with brainstorming around the trope of the superhero. The ensemble, made up of six performers -- John Cole, Christopher Allen, Carly Wicks, Lauren Anderson, Ward, and Ackerman -- pondered questions such as "how many rescue scenes can we create today with these objects?" and "how many towers can we make with pipe cleaners?" 

KABOOM takes place all around the Bedlam space. "It's going to feel really immersive for the audience," Ward says, adding that the show will appeal to comic-book fans and non-comic book fans alike. "It celebrates and satirizes the idea of a superhero." The live soundtrack has been created by three musicians and composed by Matt Larson, the "go-to for scoring puppet shows," says Ward.

After each performance, there will be things going on, including an Art Crawl after-party Saturday night, and a Stilting Ball the following weekend. 

Ward says that more and more people are finding their way to the new Bedlam space, which opened in May. "We have a stream of Lowertown regulars," she says. In addition to Bedlam programming, there's an eclectic roster of events presented by other organizations. Bedlam continues to try to make the new space accessible and welcoming to the old-school "Bedlamites" from the West Bank days, while ensuring that the new spot suits Lowertown as well. "There's an ongoing desire to have both worlds," Ward says. 

IF YOU GO:

KABOOM

October 10-18

Bedlam Lowertown

Show are presented every night except Tuesday

8 p.m.

$10-$15

See here for more information and to get a list of events happening after the show.