Friday, January 29, 2010


If Boise Little Theater's production of Fools was a person, he'd be a big grinning frat boy who's learned to balance a spoon on his nose while belching The Star-Spangled Banner and pouring you a boilermaker. Yeah, he's really dumb, but he throws a good party. And yes, the show may just be the dumbest thing Neil Simon ever wrote, but you'll have fun nonetheless.

Jason Roper plays Leon, an enthusiastic schoolteacher who has taken a job as schoolmaster in the village of Kulyenchikov. When he arrives in town, he meets several villagers, played by Andy Neill, Sean McBride, Joey Maxey, Steven Lanzet and Becky Kimsey. They inform him that the village has been cursed with stupidity for 200 years. Really stupid. Like, not being able to tell the difference between a cow and a duck stupid. Legend has it that if he stays in the village for 24 hours and cannot break the curse, he too will become stupid. Leon meets Dr. Zubritsky (Don Mummert) and Lenya (Jo-Ann Jones), who have hired him to educate their daughter Sophia in the hopes that that will break the curse, and falls in love with Sophia (Allison Terenzio) in the process.

It's pretty dumb -- which the actors and director themselves readily acknowledge -- but there's a lot of good schtick that keeps it entertaining, and the brisk pace of the show keeps it from being dumb in a mind-numbing way.

Roper's numerous asides to the audience were a bit hammy and sometimes rather distracting, but I suppose that's primarily a problem I have with the script. Pretty much everything he says in the asides is something he could have (and did) easily demonstrated with his acting, so mostly they just seemed unnecessary and I would've rather the play just continued with the action.

One really nice element director Kevin Kimsey and the cast added to the show was to have several of the cast members come out into the lobby during intermission in character. Lanzet, who played the postman, delivered mail to the audience (I accidentally got something addressed to William Shakespeare. Apparently someone was trying to sell him a vacation tour of the Yampa River). Becky Kimsey sold some unusual-looking fish to audience members who remembered to bring their kopecks. And Neill kept asking people if they'd seen his two dozen sheep; he'd managed to lose all 14 of them.

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