by Samuel D. Hunter
presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
directed by David J. Miller
Boston Center for the Arts
Plaza Black Box Theatre
September 28 – October 20
Zeitgeist Stage Company Facebook Page
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston) A Bright New Boise, is the tale of one man seeking redemption in the break-room of a craft store by reconnecting with his son. It is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. The hero, soft-spoken and prodigal father, Will (Victor Shopov), reconnects with his son Alex (Zach Winston) after a successful interview at Hobby Lobby. Pauline (Janelle Mills), the manager, introduces the two and things start to go downhill, slightly uphill and then furiously downhill. They are joined by characters Anna (Dakota Shepard) and Leroy (David Lutheran), Alex’s brother.
The break room could easily be viewed as a metaphor for Limbo, the now defunct Roman Catholic waiting place for souls after death. Each character in turn is only working at Hobby Lobby until they can get their lives together, until they can move on to a better place. Except for Pauline. If the players are lost souls then Pauline is the embodiment of a potty-mouthed God who clearly cares about her charges but let’s them enjoy free will in the workplace. She sets a social standard, reminds employees of their responsibilities and then only intervenes when absolutely necessary. Shepard, Lutheran and Winston (the brotherly embodiment of hipster angst) do not make Pauline’s job easy. Mills plays Pauline with confidence and panache.
Shopov is serial killer-creepy as William. His temper is masked by a translucent layer of cool “nice guy” sheen that falls away during a heated provocation. His anger is used against him as proof that he is a fanatical member of a cult and worthy of ostracization but William isn’t a good or bad guy. He’s just a guy with a full range of emotions and a limit to his patience like any other person. Throwing a fit isn’t proof that one is a fanatic; it’s proof that one is human.
Will’s range (and Shopov’s intensity) carries the show. Each actor gives their own spark to their characters that light up the stage but the energy of each scene dissipates when the lights cut for the next scene. When the lights come up, the energy of the new scene is required to start at square one. The scenes are forced to stand alone as highly entertaining vignettes that do not tie together for a larger, more cohesive performance.
A Bright New Boise is a great show with a great cast. One of the greater themes of this show is a search for peace. We are universally searching for a piece of Heaven in a world that is destined to show us Hell. Boise could be any small town; Hobby Lobby could be any discount department store but this production is a distinct original to be enjoyed while one can regardless of where you reside.
One last note: during the performance there is a video playing that may shock some viewers. If you are squeamish or the sight of product placement disturbs you, please bring a friend to hold your hand.