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“Bette & Boo” tells a dark, absurd family drama

Photo by Christopher Huang / Northeastern University.

“The Marriage of Bette & Boo,” the first performance of the academic year by Northeastern’s theatre department, tells the story of a son witnessing the collapse of his parents’ relationship — just not in the way the audience might anticipate.

“A lot of the most meaningful things in the play are the parts you shouldn’t expect,” said Phillip Esposito, a freshman theatre major performing in his first Northeastern production. 

“Bette & Boo” was written in 1985 by Christopher Durang, whose shows are typically dark and absurd, said director Jonathan Carr, a lecturer in the theatre department, part of Northeastern’s College of Arts, Media and Design.

“I love plays that challenge the audience to have individual reactions,” Carr said. “I might be laughing while the person right next to me might be crying, and that’s exactly what I like about this show.”

Carr said the family portrayed in the play is “unexpectedly cruel, but always trying to do the best they can.” The show asks questions that, to people who are building a life together — a stage many college students are about to enter — cast a spotlight on what can happen when things go terribly wrong, Carr said.

The show, which opens on Tuesday and runs for eight performances, was put together in just a month and is the first performance in the newly upgraded Studio Theatre, which was included in the renovation of Blackman Auditorium.

“It’s a black box theatre so, as an actor, you can be right up against the audience,” said Marlee Delia, a fourth-year theatre major acting in “Bette & Boo.” “There’s no barrier — you can be just a foot away from the people watching the show.”

“The Marriage of Bette & Boo” will be performed Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased by calling (617) 373-4700 or online at neu.universitytickets.com.