David Folwell's dark comedy "Boise"
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place (just west of Seventh Ave. between Perry & 11th Sts.)
June 8-July 18
Wed.-Sat., 8:00 pm; Sat.-Sun., 3:00 pm, $37.50
(212) 868-4444 or online at www.smarttix.com
L to R: Geneva Carr as Val and Chris Burns as Stewart in the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater world premiere production of the new dark comedy "Boise" by David Folwell.. Photo by Sandra Coudert
Stewart (Christopher Burns), the discontented middle management office worker in David Folwell's new play "Boise," is the centerpiece of this hilarious, fast-paced, dark comedy about a man's journey through workplace ennui, marital discord and sexual fantasy into the depths of human depravity.
Stew's discussions with his wife Val (Geneva Carr) about toilette etiquette and his conversations with his business colleague Bill (Matt Pepper) about various coffee blends are very funny and subtly satirize the battle of the sexes and trendy obsessions in our contemporary society.
Tara (Lucia Brawley), a young, sexy woman who works in human resources at Stew's firm, introduces him to philosopher Bertrand Russell's writings and humorously exposes the lengths a man will go to score with women.
L to R: Lucia Brawly as Tara and Chris Burns as Stewart; Photo by Sandra Coudert
On Stew's birthday, his sister Jackie (Tasha Lawrence) has just the right gift to turn around her brother's sexual woes in marriage, but her own dating game takes an outrageously funny look at kinky sex as she passes from one boyfriend to the next in search of her own sexual gratification and self-worth. Matt Pepper is great in his multiple roles as her three boyfriends: Dom, an impotent S&M master, Hanik, a spacey German rock musician and Cal, a polite nerd too reserved to demand wild sex.
Meanwhile Tara's brash discussions of infidelity and her references to Bertrand Russell and John Locke humorously reveal Stew's needs to escape from the boredom of his work and marriage.
Stew dreams of a one-night stand with Tara and hopes to steal away with her on a wild sex adventure to Boise. His fantasies are thwarted when Tara discovers hot romance with the younger, more sexually confident and adventurous Owen (Alex Gilgore) after an office Christmas party.
Chris Burns as Stewart; Photo by Sandra Coudert
A frustrated and disappointed Stew begins to question the meaning of his work, sexuality and life. "What is a tie? What is the function of a tie?," Stew asks Bill in a risible moment of angst. Bill calmly replies, "You can probably find it on the Internet." This moment, like so many others in this play, is a hilarious comeuppance of contemporary society's dependence on technology and its obsession with existential questions about the meaningfulness of life.
Stew's desire to commit infidelity and to find meaning in his life through Internet porn, late-night TV sex channels, sexual adventure and fantasy ironically gets undermined when Val takes him up on his challenge to allow more sexual freedom in their marriage. After she mistakenly gets his voice message meant for Tara, she dresses up in a sexy red evening gown and meets Stew at the very nightclub where he has been secretly meeting Tara. The tables turn on Stew when Val flirts with an Indian businessman.
Stew eventually loses all sense of human decency when he attempts to force his sister to give him oral sex. Jackie ably defends herself and we begin to see just how far Stew has fallen. After Val discovers Stew has lied to Owen about having sex with her, Stew erupts violently at work and lands in prison as a man whose every need is indispensable to his happiness. He is truly stripped of his dignity.
The entire cast is excellent in this Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre production directed by Texan Rob Bundy. Fellow Texan David Folwell is an award-winning young playwright who has studied with Edward Albee and is currently an American Playwriting Fellow at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Marsha Norman and Christopher Durang. Folwell is a talent to watch. He possesses an uncanny ability to expose the hilarious underbelly of serious social problems in contemporary society through sharp, witty dialog and a crisp comic vision.[Hicks]