Theater: “A Bright New Boise” by Samuel D. Hunter @ Signature
A Hobby Lobby store and a character invoking The Rapture may not sound like the elements of a winning play. But in the hands of playwright Samuel D. Hunter (“The Whale”), “A Bright New Boise” (Signature) is slam-dunk terrific.
Will (Peter Mark Kendall) leaves his small town in northern Idaho and applies for a job in a Boise, Idaho Hobby Lobby. He is hired by Pauline (Eva Kaminsky), a mouthy manager who we quickly learn wants it her way or the highway.
During the interview, Will is introduced to a young coworker Alex (Ignacio Diaz-Silverio) who’s listening to Villa-Lobos compositions through his Beats headphones. Will reveals he and Alex have a secret connection. We also begin to learn of another secret—one that explains why Will has fled his hometown in the first place.
Director Oliver Butler creates a mood of quiet suspense, punctuated by laughs provided by Will’s goofy Hobby Lobby co-workers. They include Leroy (Angus O’Brian), Alex’s bullying stepbrother, and Anna (Anna Baryshnikov), who thinks she may be falling for Will after she learns he’s writing a novel.
Kendall and Diaz-Silverio are standouts in a play that nails small-ball office politics in a big-box store. And even though I’d probably not be caught dead in a Hobby Lobby, “A Bright New Boise” may just convince me to visit. If I tried hard enough, I’m sure I could find some use for their two-ply construction paper.