Ever wonder what transpires in the heart and mind of a fundamentalist zealot? Samuel D. Hunter ventures into that murky terrain in his dark, droll and ultimately explosive work A Bright New Boise
, set in a soulless big-box store in Boise, Idaho.
Just arrived from a small town, new hire Will (Matthew Elkins) comes across as a gentle guy and docile worker, although his authorship of a Christian e-novel does set him oddly apart from the average Joe. Will's motive for procuring this particular dead-end job is to introduce himself for the first time to another store employee: his biological son, Alex (Erik Odom). Raised in foster homes, Alex is looked after by his foster brother, Leroy (a razor-sharp Trevor Peterson), a snaky, irreverent rule-breaker determined to protect the unstable boy from the psychological predator he deems Will to be.
Funny, compassionate and disturbing all at once, Hunter's quintessentially American scenario portrays an individual trapped in an emotional and cultural wasteland, his life configured by uncaring impersonal forces, his spirit hobbled by unnamed guilt. Elkins' performance -- so palpable and so genuine he might be the guy standing next to you in the supermarket line -- captures it all. Betsy Zajko is on the mark as a no-nonsense, anti-union store manager with a compassionate streak and a relenting heart, while Heather L. Tyler, as Will's coequally isolated co-worker, compounds the pathos.
Designer David Mauer's set aptly reflects the unvarnished bleakness of these characters' lives. John Perrin Flynn directs.
Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 20. Continues through Dec. 9, 2012