A Bright New Boise
Written by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by John Perrin Flynn
Starring Matthew Elkins, Erik Odom, Trevor Peterson, Heather L. Tyler, and Betsy Zajko
Presented by Rogue Machine in Theatre/Theater
So. An observant Jew and a Secular Humanist walk into a play about modern Christianity in America. The punch line? They loved it, as did everyone else in the packed house that night.
You don’t have to be religious or opinionated or even from Idaho to enjoy the West Coast Premiere of A Bright New Boise, the final production this season on the main stage at Rogue Machine (where this reviewer has consistently seen high quality, cerebral offerings).
A Bright New Boise comes to the stage well-credentialed as a Drama Desk Award nominee, written by OBIE Award winner Samuel D. Hunter — good to know if you require a pedigree to decide how to spend an evening out. And if you require smart, crisp writing, effortless acting, and a compelling story, this is your sure bet too.
The setting is the employee break room at a busy chain store and its parking lot outside. Will, played with pinpoint accuracy by Mathew Elkins, is a mild, cheerful, affable guy and awfully eager to please. He’s recently moved to Boise from a small town upstate and taken a job as a cashier at the Hobby Lobby. Times are hard and people do these things; Will doesn’t have to go much into his past to explain the question marks on his employment application. Yet there’s so more behind Will’s puppy dog enthusiasm (even in the face of his boss’ uncapped-fire-hydrant interview style) than he first lets on. But he’s not shy for long. Will’s backbone is sturdy, even if it points off in the wrong direction.
The other Hobby Lobby employees we encounter in the break room are: Pauline, the store’s vulgar and energetic store manager played by Betsy Zajko; Anna, the meek and immature woman/child played by Heather L. Tyler; and two brothers — Alex, played by Eric Odom, is only in high school and his counter-culture older brother and protector Leroy, played by Trevor Peterson. We must not forget the Hobby Lobby executives who only appear on closed circuit TV, Ron Bottitta and Rob Dodd.
It would spoil the fun for you if I gave away much of the plot, but suffice it to say that backstories, relationships, and surprise motivations reveal themselves in the most delightful way. The writing was truly first rate and it was a joy to be able to relax into and trust it as an audience member. While there are both major and minor characters, absolutely none of them are extraneous or expendable. But what is good writing without good direction and acting? A Bright New Boise delivers on all counts. Humorous, snappy, thoughtful, quirky, and topical, the players inhabit their characters so fully and easily without a speck of artifice. Ah, rapture.
See A Bright New Boise. Now Now. Now. Now.
Make your ticket reservations by calling (855) 585-5185 or online at roguemachinetheatre.com
5041 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
2 blocks west of La Brea
Easy street parking, plan enough time to find a spot.
Now through December 9, 2012
(no performance Nov. 19)
Saturdays at 5 p.m.
Sundays at 7 p.m.
Mondays at 8 p.m.
Running time is about 90 minutes with one intermission.