Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Boise, Idaho

This is a review of the one-act play Boise, Idaho as performed at Broad Run High School on February 2, 2016. It was the fourth of the four one-act plays presented that evening, by the Theater department under the production of Ms. Laurie Halloran.

Writer: Sean Michael Welch
Director: Marietta Ruiz
Olston/Stanley: Peter McCulloch
Chastity/Stacy: Julia Connor
Narrator: Tyler Lohmeyer
Waiter/Stanley: Brandon Gormon

This was an excellent performance – the best of the four presented this evening, in this reviewer’s opinion. The mix of drama and comedy was an ideal selection for the audience, and it was very well presented.

The action takes place in a cafe in Paris. It is completely concerned with Olston Riggs, on an extended trip away from his wife and hometown of Boise, and his mistress Chastity. Unbeknownst to them, their lives are at the whim and mercy of the Narrator who is conveniently seated at a nearby table. Once Chastity becomes aware of the existence of Narrator, things start to rapidly collapse upon themselves until ultimately everyone is mired in the confusion, including Narrator and audience. It is not often in theatre that you hear the characters pleading with the Narrator to “Do something”.

Welch’s script is an aggressive post-modern effort that breaks many of the conventions of classical theatre. The spirit of the script brings several other literary works to mind. The audacity of the Narrator throughout the play evokes the omniscient works of Vonnegut, but in a much more upbeat and appealing approach. The fourth-wall interplay between the characters and narrator strikes a similar chord to the latter stages of Into the Woods. And of course, the diabolical unraveling of Olston by the suggestions of the Narrator, and their tragic results, becomes rather evocative of Othello. At the end, the audience is left wondering whether it would be such a good idea for us to become aware of the man upstairs (or at the next table) who is pulling the strings, or if we’d actually be happier not knowing. We will not reveal the ending here, but if you have seen The Truman Show, you will not be surprised with the choices made by Chastity as the curtain falls.

The performances in the play were excellent. Topping it off was the brilliant portrayal of the Narrator. Mr. Lohmeyer brought a cheerful exuberance to the role, and his effortless presentation certainly hid any challenges he may have had with mastering the breadth of the role, including the many mini-monologues. His playful demeanor set the tone for the entire production. Connor and McCulloch were also strong, although the anger and frustration in McCulloch’s performance seemed at times a carbon copy of his Henry Saunders in the recent production of Lend Me a Tenor in this same theater.

Congratulations to Ms. Ruiz for directing this excellent production. The glory of being a High School Senior/Director is that you get to personally clean up the tossed salad from the floor of the stage immediately after the production. But that should not in any diminish what was accomplished here.

I was inspired to write this review primarily after an internet search on this play did not yield much at all in the way of analysis or reviews. It has only been officially performed 44 times since its release in 2001. Hopefully this is a work that will see many more performances in the future. If anyone has any feedback on this review, or would like to link to their own review, please feel free to leave a comment.


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