Presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting, 224 Waverly Place, NYC, June 14-July 18.
Although it's loaded up (or down) with some really kinky sexual content, David Folwell's "Boise" seems a conventionally moral play—perhaps a reactionary one. It's meant, apparently, as a cautionary tale.
Stewart (Christopher Burns), a middle-management shlub in a New York corporation, is sucked into a vortex of depravity after starting a flirtation with Tara (Lucia Brawley), a free spirit from (irony of ironies) the company's human resources department. Tara steeps Stewart in subversive, liberating epigrams from Bertrand Russell, maxims that Stewart initially finds amusing. Soon, he's spouting them in all seriousness post-coitally to his wife, Val (Geneva Carr). At the office, he begins railing about the uselessness of neckties. All the while, he's tormented by his desire for Tara. Eventually, he skids too close to the moral precipice to escape catastrophe.
"Boise" is billed as a dark comedy. The first two-thirds or so amuse in a Dilbertish, Seinfeldian sort of way. But the last part of the play gets darker and darker, taking the audience to some discomfiting, taboo-busting places.
Rob Bundy's fluid direction helps make this tonal transition smooth. Forgoing lighting blackouts between scenes, Bundy switches locales with unapologetic simplicity and directness.
The acting is uniformly good. Burns has hangdog charm, employing a bundle of tics that are just right for Stewart. Tasha Lawrence is hilarious as Jackie, Stewart's tough-cookie sister, who embarks on a series of erotic escapades but can never quite find the right guy. Jackie's beaux are portrayed by the versatile Matt Pepper, who also gives a funny but surprisingly touching performance as Stewart's colleague Bill, a water-cooler geek who turns out to be an earnest father of three. Alex Kilgore completes the cast as Owen, Stewart's stud-pony friend.
Folwell is definitely a playwright to watch. One hopes he'll be just as resourceful when dealing with less combustible subject matter.