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REVIEW: Weird and wonderful, BLAM-tastic show at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre

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Take an episode of The Office, snapshots from a selection of action movies, some green face paint and a puppet made from anglepoise lamps and a water cooler, and you’ve got BLAM!

Yes, this show really is as unusual as it sounds and is almost impossible to classify.

It isn’t a dance show, but dance and choreography are at the heart of the performance.

It isn’t a play, or a drama, comedy or tragedy; but all three do feature.

What it most definitely is, is weird, wonderful and most certainly BLAM-tastic.

BLAM! is a Danish show which took Edinburgh Festival by storm last year, selling out one of the Fringe’s biggest venues and securing four and five star reviews, as well as a run in London’s West End as well as international dates on the back of the success.

It’s now back and in Blackpool for 10 nights only, until Sunday, August 31, for its only UK dates this year.

There’s something for everyone in the short show, which I guess you can call a piece of ‘physical theatre’, although its biggest appeal might be to dads and their sons.

In the utterly uninspiring, modern open-plan, partitioned office - typically adorned with a single limp-leaved fern - three bored, somewhat nerdy office workers while away their day with waste paper basketball, and the odd stunt to brighten the tedium.

At the same time, they’re trying to avoid the attentions of their socially awkward boss, played with more than a hint of Basil Fawlty and Mr Bean, by BLAM! director Kristjan Ingimarsson.

It’s a slow start, but gradually he too is drawn into the fun and games.

Then what begins as flashes of entertainment in their dull lives become gradually longer, more physical and more exciting scenes from action movies, referencing a host of Hollywood big hitters - which I’ll admit went over my head.

That said, the sheer physicality of BLAM! and the performers’ strength, flexibility and creativity on stage more than makes up for it if you don’t happen to be an action flick chick.

They combine acrobatics with parcour, mime with occasional explosive laughter, and make comic and genuis use of anything and everything you’d find in an office - from staplers to ring-binders, and from rubber stamps to coat stands in their battles and armoury. There’s even a bit of trapeze trickery thrown in for good measure.

Against the wham, BLAM! of the awesome fight scenes, which tap into kung fu as well as computer shoot ‘em ups, there’s even ballroom dance, ballet and romance between one worker and a strangely alluring and endearing ‘alien’ creature, fashioned from two anglepoise lamps and a water-cooler. These moments make for a very welcome change of pace and tone, bringing down the thumping soundtrack to a more gentle level to add to the mood, but I warn you - have a tissue ready for the climax of this subplot.

What BLAM! most definitely manages, just as you think you might have had enough of the high-octane sequences, is to turn expectations on their head... In more ways than one, in the build-up to a blockbuster ending.

Meet Marvel’s comic book heroes Predator, Wolverine, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man in BLAM!’s fantastic final scene.

While the show may finish with a fist-pumping, chest-baring, stage-hogging rendition of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell, the audience leaves on a high.

l BLAM!, Grand Theatre, Blackpool, until August 31, various times. Call 01253 290190.

 

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