Charlie Rhindress’ Boo is endearing from the moment he walks onstage with his big, earnest eyes and welcoming smile. His charm is instantaneous, and humble and his monologue feels unscripted. Indeed, this is a beautifully meta-theatrical world where the audience is unsure where the line between Rhindress and Boo begins and ends, and where the fourth wall stops- if there is even a fourth-wall at all.
Boo begins with his birth, and tells tales reminiscent of those in Augusten Burroughs’ novel Running With Scissors. The ‘stand up comedy’ quality of his vocal patter reminded me of Ellen DeGeneres as it drew witty connections between seemingly mundane experiences while appealing to sensibilities that an entire audience can relate to. The audience laughs nonstop, and then the lights change and Rhindress steps into a more winsome realm of storytelling.
There is a beautiful fairy tale that weaves throughout boo, a story that shows off the beauty of Rhindress’ writing. The fairy tale mirrors Boo’s experience and his stand-up routines, and as the stand-up captures a man attempting to deflect a painful issue, within a magical world he is able to speak tenderly, and is able to reveal the layers of the metaphorical lasagna and come to some poignant- albeit painful- realizations about marriage, love, contentment, and the beast in the belly who is always wanting more. Here, Rhindress has created a fairy tale out of an adult’s nightmare.
The direction by Daniel MacIvor is clear and makes good use of the entire space in a way that can be difficult for a one-man-show. He is able to use levels, lighting and even the microphone stand to differentiate Boo’s stand up from his imagined, more fanciful world. The music is beautifully effective, and feels characteristically MacIvor. The creative partnership here between Rhindress and MacIvor seems perfectly suited; their talents obviously work well together to create something that can make an audience so quick to laugh, and then moments later can wrench that same person’s heart without devaluing the power of comedy. This, I think, is also the case in all MacIvor’s plays.
There is so much heart and soul in boo, in the telling about an event that so many people have emotional experiences with. Whether we are in the theatre or not, everyone seeks in some way to connect, to look for the truth, and then constructs elaborate mechanisms in attempt to avoid both. As Rhindress quotes from Stephan Sondheim, “no one is alone,” and indeed, I think many people will see elements of themselves reflected back in the complex, contradictory, theatrical, emotional character named Boo.