Samuel D. Hunter’s “A Bright New Boise” is one of those bright new plays that some will love and others will hate, some will get and some won’t, and some will relate to while others will find the characters unrelatable.
One thing is for certain: Hunter will make you think about your religious views.
Nathanael Lee plays the conflicted Will, a religious man who has left his upstate evangelical church after a scandal closes it down, settling in Boise with two goals: starting a new life and finding his teenage son who he gave up for adoption at birth.
If you think Will is screwed up, wait until you meet Alex (Patrick Saunders). The kid is a mess, subject to panic attacks and influenced by his vulgar adoptive brother, Leroy (James Lucey). Alex doesn’t know how to deal with meeting his father, retreating from him until curiosity raises questions he needs answers for…but on his terms.
The action takes place in the break room of the big box Hobby Lobby, where a TV show’s corporate executives give sales promotion advice, interrupted by fuzzy, gory scenes of a medical show. (I must admit, I’m not sure I got that part of it.)
Two other weird characters add to the mix. Pauline (Suzy Bowen-Powers) is the foul-mouthed store manager whose ego often takes over as she credits herself for saving the store from being closed and won’t have anybody rocking her boat.
The oddball in the mix is Anna (Tray Gearing), the insecure, off-kilter woman who is searching for meaning in her dull life. She tries to get Will to go to her church. “We have church suppers and a food bank and…”
But the boat quickly gets rocked with Will’s hiring. There is immediate conflict with Leroy as they both spar over Alex. Will tries to suppress his fundamentalist feelings about the Rapture but admits to writing a book on the subject.
Hunter at times pushes the envelope a bit too far, and ends his 80-minute, one-acter with no resolution. But he does give us some interesting characters and a lot to think about.
The actors do a fine job of defining their characters as they struggle for some meaning in their mundane, unfulfilling lives. Much of this is due to the tight direction by Mark Peckham.
While the play deals with serious issues, there are a few moments of comic relief. But for the most part things get very dicey and may even offend some folks with firm religious beliefs.
Showing in 2nd Story’s intimate downstairs theatre through March 30 Tickets are $25. Call 247-4200 for reservations.