Reviewed by Mary Paige Rieffel
In it’s inaugural season, The Flint Theatre Guild has taken on some great new work to showcase in the Flint area. A Bright New Boise, by Samuel D. Hunter, first debuted in New York City in 2010. It is a harsh and riveting look into the break room of a Hobby Lobby craft store set in the present.
In this fairly normal break room space of a retail store, we get a small slice of a larger drama unfolding around the main character, Will (Jesse Glenn). This kind of show is difficult to inclusively review because the plot unfolds so deliciously that as each secret is uncovered it becomes a moment of excitement for the viewer. But, let me try!
Will is a quiet, religious man who gives the impression that he would never want to ruffle any feathers. However, this proves not to be the case as he disrupts the already dysfunctional inner workings of this retail hell hole by revealing his shocking connection to a teenage employee, Alex (Nathan Schwartz). Glenn and Schwartz play in wonderful opposition to one another, and both actors ramp up to their character’s climax in effortless unison. Glenn is an expert at calm and effective acting and really earns his character’s big moments.
The remaining three characters orbit around the main plot while pulling spectacular performances individually. Sarah E. Jarret plays Pauline, a hard ass manager who has succeeded in bearing down and surviving this soul-sucking career by doing what she has to and keeping it together. Jarret’s dry yet sharp comedic timing really adds interest to an already compelling story. Steven Sherman plays Leroy, the out of place, very intense and aggressive, overqualified artist and protective older brother to Alex. It feels as though Sherman was really able to dig into this role and to commit wonderfully to the posturing of what is at the core of such an intense character. Felicia Hall is positively charming in her portrayal of Anna, a quirky (understatement!) fellow Hobby Lobby employee. Hall is consistently and sincerely engaged in the world of the play and is a joy to watch.
There was an overall sense that the cast knew they had a winner on their hands with this production. Under the direction of Tomoko Miller, they were able to put together an extremely strong show. With a single location and Glenn’s simple yet crisp set design, the actors were allowed to shine as brightly as they are. It was apparent that the audience truly was there to ride the wave of this script’s energy, and it was most refreshing to see a new work and see it done well.
This show is not to be missed regardless of whether you are a casual or serious fan of the theatre. Let’s make going to the theatre in downtown Flint something anyone can think to do on the weekend and diversify the options of fun things to do in our area.
A Bright New Boise plays this weekend only – July 26th at 8 pm, 27th at 7 pm and 28th at 3 pm. (Please note the variations in curtain times) It is being performed inside the BlackBox Theatre at the University of Michigan-Flint. Tickets for all Flint Theatre Guild shows are available online at FlintTheatreGuild.Eventbrite.com.