As the father of two young boys, at some point, not too far from now, I’m going to have to wrestle with the ‘Should they play with guns’ debate. My current thinking is I’ll keep an eye on it, but I won’t stop it. I had toy guns and it’s not had a detrimental effect on me. Besides, kids will only find something else resembling a weapon to pretend shoot, hit or wrap around each other anyway.
So, I found out, will adults. I’d not used my fingers as a stand-in Walther PPK in probably two decades. That is, until last week, when I found myself once more drawing digit shooters from imaginary holsters like a pro. Far from running around a cluttered living room dodging He-Man toys and footballs, I was doing so at the Peacock theatre, the West End home of world famous dance establishment Sadler’s Wells. I was Blamming.
BLAM!, the brainchild of Danish performer Kristján Ingimarsson, bills itself as Die Hard meets The Office. It takes audiences, and unwitting theatre journalists, into a world where office supplies become everything from weapons to love interests when a team of workers, bored to tears with the humdrumness of everyday life, invent a way to spice up work time.
“I’ve always been really fond of the language of movies,” says Ingimarsson as I catch my breath following a 10 minute submersion in the world of BLAM!. “How you walk, how you look, everything in slow motion, everything extra big. I wanted to bring that to the stage.”
The team of four performers are all trained physical theatre experts adept at performing such feats night after night. I, sadly, am not. The protective back plate I’m fitted with at the start of the session looks, from the front, like a particularly ineffective girdle. From the back I look like a low rent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. While they’re kitted out in the dullest of office wear that would make Stella McCartney run screaming from the theatre in disgust, I, in sports gear, am the one who looks more pie than spy.
Performing in the show for three weeks, they say, would sort out my troublesome fat-to-muscle ratios. “First you die,” they explain, “then you slowly get in shape.”
It doesn’t sound the most appealing of options, but I’ve already died repeatedly on stage this morning – such has been the story of my performing life – so maybe it wouldn’t be too bad.
Certainly charging around pretending to shoot and be shot, then get up immediately and do it all again, takes me straight back to the innocence of being 10 once more. And it’s fantastic. Five minutes of office blaming each day would certainly add spice to the lunchtime salad.
This, it turns out, is only a very early scene from a piece that escalates in its ambition as the workers become superheroes and fall in love. Taking part is like being a kid in a playground. I can’t wait to find out what sitting in the audience feels like.
Watch the full video of Official London Theatre’s BLAM! experience, including an editor’s-eye-view, at the top of the page.