How theatre continues to fail America: BO-NITA is 85 minutes of inane inauthenticity

BO-NITA by Elizabeth Heffron at Portland Center Stage


The emperor has no clothes. Supremely, incomprehensibly awful. Baffled silence of the room says it all: Is this really the best PCS can do? Embarrassing profanity. Tacky, stereotypical underclass characters. Wildly implausible “story” far below audience’s intelligence, sophistication, wit. Norris, closer to 40 than 13, miscast.

See my review of BO-NITA’s Seattle Rep World Premiere for more detail.

Thru March 16

Theater Review | BO-NITA by Elizabeth Heffron at Seattle Rep

Slummin’ it with Honey Boo Boo-Nita: One person show titillates with quirky cartoon cutouts of “working class” characters, but falls short of real social engagement and asks no hard questions


Somewhere around 75% of the way into BO-NITA, an inconsequential 90 minute one person show by Elizabeth Heffron having its world premiere at Seattle Rep, I realized that the eponymous narrator, a 13 year old girl from challenged circumstances in a provincial city (who somehow has the intelligence and cutting wit of a genius Hollywood screenwriter), has no idea why she is telling us her story. The audience isn’t sure either. We’re on a madcap tale through wild and wacky circumstances of woe with young Bo-Nita, whose hapless friends and family make the cast of DUMB AND DUMBER look like rocket scientists. In the mix are beat up cars and dead bodies and drugs and pithy one liners galore from hard-living folks down on their luck on the mean streets of St. Louis.

But with minimal story arc or character development, and a monotonous string of punchlines and visual (imagined) gags, where the essential message over and over is “CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW STUPID AND UNFORTUNATE THESE PEOPLE ARE? WHAT WILL THEY THINK UP NEXT?” it all becomes so much fluff and diversion. Soon enough the show ends with a blasting pop soundtrack, Blondie’s gorgeous DREAMING IS FREE, which effectively dismisses everything we have just seen and says (either from the playwright or director): “Yeah, we’re not sure what it all means, either! But rock on, everyone!”

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