Boom X is a highly entertaining and touching trip through the lives of Generation X. Rick Miller presents his one-man follow-up to Boom with a journey that is part hilarious nostalgia and part poignant reflection on the growing pains of the generation following the Boomers. It is fun, rousing, and thoughtful.
With interviews of four Gen X-ers from different backgrounds, the music of the 70’s through half of the 90’s, TV and movie clips, commercials, and the influence of technology, Mr. Miller delivers perspectives that are familiar and unique. The cliché about Gen X is that they are disaffected, cynical, and disillusioned. While partly true, for the characters in the show, it is much more complicated and heartening. For one person, life in Montreal was about the beloved Expos. Indeed, the metaphor of baseball and how failure leads to success is woven throughout the narrative. Mr. Miller also interviewed a woman who grew up in East Europe during the Cold War before moving to Montreal. Her experience in an oppressive society vs. the freedom of the West gives a powerful point of view. Not everyone sees freedom in the same way. The common threads in these stories are of pushing society to change through art, music, and political action.
The multimedia aspects of the show are great. The execution is flamboyant. The image of Pac-Man chomping away across the stage is delightful. The chronicle of historical events is juxtaposed by the songs of the times. But it is not a dry catalogue of dates: the political and cultural events Mr. Miller presents have had a tremendous impact on Gen X and how they faced their future. In spite of a shiny world presented through TV and advertisements, it doesn’t change how hard or painful growing up can be.
Mr. Miller is not just giving a wistful trip down memory lane. He is opening conversations on the experiences of his generation. Gen X was not entirely its own stereotype. It managed to push on and build the society we have now. Gen X continued to step up to the plate in spite of the set-backs. It’s a valuable lesson to pass on to the next group, the Millennials.
Photo credit: Irina Litvinenko
BOOM X. Performed, written, and directed by Rick Miler. Show continues until March 10, at Segal Centre, 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Ste-Catherine, Montreal. Call the box office 514-739-7944 or go to www.segalcentre.org