Last week, Boise Contemporary Theater opened the second play of its 2009-2010 season, Rajiv Joseph's Animals out of Paper. In it, Ilana Andrews (Renata Hirichs), a world-renowned origamist, faces loss by feeling little. She meets Andy (Nat DeWolf), a self-deprecating excitable high-school math teacher and origami acolyte who asks her to tutor 17-year-old Suresh (Debargo Sanyal), a calculus prodigy with an innate talent for paper folding.
Andy protects himself by maintaining a frightfully sunny disposition and sees everything--both good and bad--as a blessing. After the sudden death of his mother, Suresh keeps the world at bay with hip-hop in his headphones and an affected urban swagger in his step. Both Andy and Suresh fall in love with Ilana, and though unable to return their feelings, she does begin to unfold some of the rigid creases in her life.
Though Sanyal is a little long in the tooth to be a teen, his portrayal of a brilliant boy is rife with laugh-out-loud humor, sincerity, deep sadness and strength of character. His face is unbearably expressive at times, especially compared to both Andy and Ilana's one-dimensionality--intentional or otherwise.
Animals Out of Paper has uncomfortable moments--Andy professes his unrequited love; Suresh mistakes his misguided mother-figure feelings for sexual attraction--but that's what BCT does best: plays in which characters are forced to face their frailties, and audience members, unwitting voyeurs that we are, have nowhere to turn.