Live theater doesn't often do sequels. Especially not on the local level. But as part of the city's sesquicentennial celebration, local playwrights Evan Sesek and Jason Haskins at Alley Repertory Theater decided to buck that trend and pen a follow-up to their 2011 play, Voices From the Boise Hole. It was a good decision.
Like the original, Voices From the Boise Hole 2 is a series of monologues from different archetypal characters who are likely to be encountered in the City of Trees: an Iraq vet working security, a high-school girl having a bachelorette party on top of Camel's Back, a housewife vending Scentsy candles and sex toys. But one of the first play's best monologues--a member of Boise State's Fiesta Bowl-winning football team waxing nostalgic as he checks IDs at the door to a Sixth and Main club--was carried over.
The second rendition of the play maintained much of the balance of bizarre and rolling comedy that typified the first, but cut through many of the inside baseball references that handicapped it, making Part 2 far more approachable.
A tandem dueling monologue between the last Occupy protester and a pitchman for The Citadel speaks to larger universal truths of the American condition as much as it does to Idaho. A monologue from the host of a TVCTV community access program about video games could be both anywhere and only in Boise. Actor Declan Kempe's depiction of the character was painfully perfect, coming across as that awkward cousin we all dread discussing anime with come Thanksgiving. Justin Ness bumbling around the venue talking about his favorite bars was the perfect drunk uncle from the same awkward Thanksgiving.
But beneath the approachable anywhere-ness of the play's pieces was a hyperlocal emotional core depicting characters facing a city and region in transition--a once-sleepy town in the midst of an urban renaissance. It could be set anywhere, yet it could only be here in Boise.
A core component of the play was revisiting one of the characters at several points in her life: first as a high-school girl about to get married, then as a young married woman and finally as a divorcee. Her path mirrored that of the city's at large and tied the play's pieces together nicely.
"Living in Pocatello now is what living in Boise was like then," the divorcee says.
The second act was a bit slower than the first, primarily because the comedic pieces were front-loaded, with the play devolving into a darker and less playful tone. But Voices From the Boise Hole 2 remained engaging to the bitter end and is a piece of standout local theater that nearly anyone, theater fans or not, was able to appreciate.