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A CurtainUp Review
Bright New Boise
The play opens with a job interview with Will (Andrew Garman), who quickly becomes The Hobby Lobby's newest employee. He has recently moved from a small town, for reasons unknown. As the manager Pauline exits the breakroom for paperwork, a teenage cashier enters and Will seems fascinated. We quickly find out the young Alex (Matt Farabee) is his biological son. This crucial tidbit is literally how Will introduces himself to a stunned, silent Alex.
As it turns out, Will was a part of a small, cultish church that recently disbanded over a controversy. His search for new direction in life led him to his biological son, with hopes of finally having a relationship with him, and perhaps even a new life. Certainly, Will's intention is at least for a new start.
We meet a couple other Hobby Lobby employees. There's the sweet Anna (Sarah Nina Hayon) who seems to have a lot in common with Will and quickly becomes fond of him. Then there's Leroy, Alex's foster brother who is aggressively protective of Alex, and an angry conceptual artist to boot.
Playwright Samuel D Hunter could have easily taken a preachy point of view to these people's less than ideal lives, but he doesn't. He also could have written a play filled with the quick, unfair judgments we make of Evangelical middle America, but he doesn't really do that, either. Instead, this is a play about escape: how we all need a way to escape reality. Will has his faith in God (and had his church), Leroy has his art, Pauline puts all her energy into The Hobby Lobby, and Anna has books. Alex may currently have music, but he is struggling to find his true form of escape. Unfortunately, as we see in this play, some forms of escape have the ability to hurt those around you.
The creative team for A Bright New Boise has put together a solid, deeply moving production with just the right amount of polish. Director David McCallum has approached the play without any bells and whistles, really giving the story the opportunity to shine and affect. Jason Simms' set feel exactly like what it's supposed to be — a breakroom in anywhere, USA. I don't mean to be giving the actors short shrift here. They all get their characters and don't play them as ignorant or average. Even though the theater season has just started, this show will likely be one of my favorites.
A special mention must also go to this space, The Wild Project, which was recently renovated as a Green theater. That means energy saving light bulbs and toilets, and eco-friendly (and comfortable!) seating.