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Bright Ideas

a Comedy
by Eric Coble

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Out of Box Theatre at Artisan Resource Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 4497

SHOWING : September 13, 2013 - September 28, 2013



Google "finding for the perfect preschool" and you get 2,600,000 results in about 10 seconds. Google "how to get your child into the BEST preschool" and you get 129,000,000 results in less than 4 seconds. With this in mind, Out of Box Theatre had the "Bright Idea" to produce a play that explores the twisted journey of one family to get their son into THE best preschool.

Enter the fiercely competitive world of pre-school in the dark comedy "Bright Ideas." Josh and Genevra Bradley are next on the list at Bright Ideas, the perfect place for their darling son, Mac. With his entire future hinging on this one parental decision, they do what any desperate, slightly homicidal couple would do - invite the competition over for dinner. Because everybody likes pesto... "Bright Ideas" puts into hilarious perspective the vaunting ambition and deranged expectations parents have of their children and their future success in a delightfully Macbeth-ian way.

Director Morgan Brooks
Ross, Male Ensemble Davin Allen Grindstaff
Josh Bradley Matt Hoffberg
Denise, Female Ensemble Jennifer Lee
Lynzie, Female Ensemble Parris Sarter
Genevra Bradley Emily Tyrybon
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Hitting on All Cylinders
by playgoer
Thursday, September 19, 2013
"Bright Ideas" uses an ensemble of three actors to play a variety of characters that interact with Genevra and Josh Bradley as they plot to enroll their almost-four-year-old son in the best pre-school in town and have him thrive there. The Bradleys are determined to get their son every advantage, cutting all possible moral corners to make that happen. It’s a breezy, energetic journey from the realm of "what if" to the reality of "how can we stop now?" References to "Macbeth" occur as riffs on "Is this a dagger I see before me?", lists of deadly ingredients, "Out, out, damned spot", and Banquo’s ghost. The references are fun, but the plot isn’t closely based on "Macbeth."

Christopher S. Dills’ set works well in the small theatre, using recessed stripes of Crayola colors to break up the beige of the walls. The set pieces are simple, with everything but a couple of shelf units moving about to indicate different locations. The shelf units contain kiddie items and liquor bottles, neatly encapsulating the competing interests of father Josh Bradley, who seems to enjoy his ever-present drinks as much as he does his unseen son. The only odd touch I noted in the set was an outlet plate mounted to the wall with no outlet behind it.

Director Morgan Brooks has coaxed fine performances from all the cast members. Emily Tyrybon invests Genevra Bradley with equal parts charm and menace, driving the action along. Matt Hoffberg, as her husband, has a more challenging role and acquits himself well in his character’s wide-ranging set of emotions, while not making every moment ring true. Jennifer Lee and Davin Grindstaff delineate their multiple characters with humor and aplomb. Parris Sarter, who seems to have the most characters to play, provides tremendous energy, but could use some additional touches (something in the hair, perhaps) to make each of her characters truly distinct.

"Bright Ideas" takes a relatable concept -- the desire of parents to give their children advantages they never had -- and amps it up till it borders on the insane. Things could easily misfire if the action veered in totally unbelievable directions, but the playwright has carefully crafted his vehicle to take us on a journey that we willingly agree to. By the time the audience is corralled into singing "Happy Birthday" near the end, that vehicle is revved up and hitting on all cylinders, taking us merrily along to the brink of the Bradley’s disaster. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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