My Own Private Idaho
Circle Theatre continues to keep our theater scene fresh and relevant, opening the quietly disquieting A Bright New Boise this week. Samuel D. Hunter’s play, which debuted in New York in 2010, takes place entirely in the break room of a Hobby Lobby in Boise, Idaho. The store’s newest employee is an evangelical Christian who believes that the Rapture is close at hand, and he has fled a scandal in his rural hometown and come to Boise to reunite with the teenage son who also works at the craft supply shop and whom he hasn’t seen since the boy was a baby.
The winner of the Obie Award for playwriting in 2011, the play subjects its characters to a series of soul-destroying corporate videos and raises a number of sharp-edged questions. Is religion itself just a hobby like the ones that the store caters to? Is religious extremism a rational response to a culture and an economy that offer these characters so little? These big questions play out in a workplace environment that many reviewers have compared to TV’s The Office. A native of rural Idaho himself, Hunter knows this territory well, and his skepticism of religion is tinged with a good deal of appreciation. This looks to be the most intellectually stimulating play Fort Worth has seen in a while.