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Published on Tuesday, 13 August 2013

4 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
31 Jul, 1-6, 8-12, 14-19, 21-26 Aug, 5:55pm-7:10pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

Blam! has both the most delicious and most inaccurate tagline of any show this Fringe: "The Office meets Die Hard." I say inaccurate, because it hardly prepares you for the real spectacle. Blam! fuses hints of The Office with every badass action movie ever made, with stunts that are, quite frankly, better than anything I've seen in Rambo or The Matrix. This is the pinnacle of physical theatre, putting most other shows in that category to shame, and although there is a distinct lack of plot or complexity Blam!’s daring stunts make it a highlight of the Fringe.

Frustrated by the daily grind, three imaginative office workers invent a game to lighten things up. Through a series of coded signals, and watched by their boss on CCTV, they transform their dull workplace into a whirlwind of action. Things heat up when their sleazy boss joins in the fun. During the game, the stage is transformed into a colourfully-lit set, for action scenes that make the most of regular office tools – staplers, folders and even the water cooler are turned into ingenious props for the recreation of some classic Hollywood blockbusters.

To be honest, there's not much of a plot, but that's hardly a troubling issue; this show is a crowd-pleaser rather than a complex study of the everyman. And there’s no dialogue. That makes for a slightly awkward opening, with the silence of the office disturbed only by a couple of games of paper toss and the nervous laughter of an audience that doesn't really know what they're watching. It's perhaps a little too slow for my liking, but the piece soon evolves to mimic an impressive list of action scenes; nods to Jackie Chan, Wolverine and the Hulk are easily recognisable, but I’m loath to spoil everything for you here. 

Kristján Ingimarsson, Joen Højerslev, Lars Gregersen and Didier Oberle (who actually looked distractingly like Matt Damon from where I was sitting) are true artists of their craft. Every movement looks effortless, and there is no holding back. The fact that they push themselves to such limits every day is astounding – the very thought of it makes my bones ache. And aside from the actors' amazing physical feats, the artistry of the show is fantastic. The change in lighting during the action scenes serves to completely transport the characters and the audience into a different world, and the set design is jaw-dropping. Without wanting to spoil too many scenes, the whole set gets a bit of an Inception makeover midway through, which makes the audience gasp with delight.

If you're a fan of action movies, this will undoubtedly be among the best shows you see this Fringe. Even if you're a little more Notebook than Gangster Squad, you'll appreciate the physicality of it, though the action might become a little overwhelming. By the end of the show – when there's a hilarious bromantic dance number to a famous rock anthem – the audience is on their feet, quite appropriately. Just make sure you don't get a seat behind a tall, large-headed person like I did. You'll want to see every inch of this physical masterpiece.

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