Each of us strives to find meaning in our lives; each of us has a different definition of what this meaning is. In Samuel D. Hunter’s “A Bright New Boise”, we meet five characters who are trying to solve the same existential questions that we all face, albeit in their own ways. Foul-mouthed Pauline (Rebecca Robinson), the store-manager who believes that the only important thing is to achieve real and tangible goals, is too busy trying to run the store effectively to have time for love, family or the Armageddon! Leroy (Chase Brewer), who is trying to shock people out of their routine and complacency with his provocative art, seems to have a confrontational “fuck the world” attitude, but also has a warm and nurturing side to him. Alex (Nate Jackson), who is wary and not ready to connect with his father, is simply a lost teenager who is trying to make sense of the world around him. No wonder there are dark overtones to his character. Anna (Katie Kohler), a young self-conscious girl who likes to read books/stories with dramatic endings, is such a subtle combination of cynicism and hope, that you realize as the play progresses that she is not really as ditzy as she seems. And finally Will (Benjamin Summers), who is engulfed in the world of evangelism, fights hard to get out of it and seeks atonement for his mistakes, both past and present, by connecting with his estranged son. You can see that the desperation he feels, both to stay with and move on from his religious convictions, is tearing him apart. “Now, now, now”, he says, waiting for the Armageddon that will end it all and restore the beauty and balance of the universe, and with his every “now”, I waited in desperation for a foolishly dramatic ending. But life just goes on, as wearily, gruesomely and painfully as ever. We are surrounded by odd people with odd ways to make their lives on our odd planet a little more tolerable. This trip to Boise, an eye opener on many different levels, attempts to unravel a few of these oddities. And Hyde Park Theater’s realistic set design (Mark Pickell), splendid acting and insightful direction (Ken Webster) ensures the success of that attempt.
“A Bright New Boise” plays at Hyde Park Theater until October 25,2014.
Shows are Thur-Sat, 8 pm