It was a Sunday night, and as I nestled in to my seat at Woolly Mammoth Theater, still slightly buzzed off of an afternoon of mimosas, I wasn’t ready to confront my feelings on God and the meaning of faith. As someone who’s deathly afraid of natural disasters, global warming and doomsday, I certainly wasn’t prepared to have my buzz killed by thoughts of the Rapture.
Turns out, as Woolly’s newest play, A Bright New Boise, began, I wasn’t going to have much of a choice.
Woolly Mammoth’s plays are meant to make you think, as they throw difficult, taboo topics in your face, with hopes of making us all more aware and introspective citizens. At least, I hope that’s the outcome.
One of the main characters in Bright New Boise, Leroy, dons t-shirts emblazoned with “FUCK,” “YOU WILL EAT YOUR CHILDREN,” and a host of other offensive, confrontational words and statements that, he says, are meant to throw uncomfortable topics in the faces of the shoppers at Hobby Lobby, a big box retailer where the play is set, as they pick up their art supplies.
Leroy’s t-shirts are a metaphor for Bright New Boise and the other plays at Woolly—they force viewers—whether prepared or not—to reflect on contentious, multi-dimensional societal concerns as they go about their day-to-day lives.
Woolly’s last two plays centered on race and sexuality. And now, we get religion. The employees of Hobby Lobby—a control-freak manager with a foul mouth; a confused orphan with a passion for poetry; his artistic renegade foster brother; a sad, awkward 20-something female, and a former religious cult member with a terrible secret—go about their day-to-day lives stocking cloth flowers, Styrofoam balls, doll heads, and crayons hoping there’s something more meaningful out there. The entire play is set in the back room and in the parking lot of this retail store.
The characters’ situations are further affected by the economic recession—one character lives in his car and another worries about paying for college. Meanwhile, the company executives, who are ever-present in a big brother-esque video playing non-stop in the office, focus solely on profit margins at the expense of employee well-being. (Sound familiar?)
A Bright New Boise was thought-provoking and often humorous—and will resonate with each and every person in the audience in some way. It’s showing through November 6, and tickets are a recession-friendly $30. We highly recommend it.
Woolly Mammoth Theater
641 D Street N.W.