This past year, I saw… A brother make out with his sister. A bar mob eat two strangers. A gunman kill schoolchildren. A clown rape a little girl. I see plays with every imaginable injustice. But it was the religious content of this play that has left me unsettled and angry.
LiveWire Chicago Theatre presents the Chicago premiere of A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. The Hobby Lobby is the local craft mecca. It also employs a host of misfits. Pauline is the hard-ass manager with a soft spot for losers. Leroy is a foul-mouthed performance artist bent on making people uncomfortable. Anna is the quirky book-reading salesgirl. Alex is the sullen teenager. Will is the new hire. He looks normal. As his religious past seeps into his secular present, its apparent Will doesn’t quite ‘fit in.’ But does he really want to? For me, A BRIGHT NEW BOISE is pre-rapture angst.
Playwright Samuel D. Hunter created a bunch of eclectic individuals to staff the store. Under the direction of Joshua Aaron Weinstein, the talented cast has moments of captivation. A cackling Allison Cain (Pauline) balances between corporate stooge and maternal manager. Cain and Brian Rad (Leroy) engage in some hilarious screaming banter. A fiery Rad is a revolution instigator. He boastfully pushes buttons to disturb people. An awkward-chatting Faith Hurley (Anna) is hysterical. One minute, Hurley flirts with nervous giggling. Next, in an indignant second, she prickles up over a misperception. Jackson Challinor (Alex) plays brooding teenager perfectly. Challinor hints at inner turmoil with a regularly stated ‘Or I’ll kill myself!’ What’s going on with him? What’s going on with the entire Hobby Lobby crew? I like these weirdoes and want to know more about their lives. But Hunter decides to try to convert me instead.
Tom Hickey (Will) plays the lead. I’ve seen Hickey in many past roles and believe him to be a fine actor. I didn’t like him in this because I didn’t like his character… at all. Hunter has written Will as a zealous religious believer. He has come to the Hobby Lobby to establish a relationship with his son. Or did he? At moments, Will is amicable but then he gets preachy. He believes the rapture will provide a better life for the true believers. And to hell with the rest us… literally! His tunnel vision to an afterlife leaves him disconnected to his life. His detachment, even to his son, is not heart-wrenching to me. It’s annoying! I’ve never wanted to slap someone that was praying for divine intervention…until this show. But maybe that’s Hunter’s intent? To provoke a strong reaction? It’s been 24 hours since I’ve seen A BRIGHT NEW BOISE and I’m still annoyed by it.
Running Time: One hour and forty-five minutes with no intermission
At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln
Written by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by Joshua Aaron Weinstein
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru December 17th
Buy Tickets at www.greenhousetheatre.com
For information, visit www.livewirechicago.com