Play: “Becky’s New Car”
Group: Insight Theatre Company
Venue: Heagney Theatre, Nerinx Hall
Dates: Run completed
Story: Becky once was told by a friend that if you want a new car, what you really want is a new life. Becky tells the audience about her friends and her life often, even asking us to help out around the house she shares with her roofer husband Joe and 26-year-old psychology student Chris or the car dealership where she works as office manager. When millionaire widower Walter Flood shows up one day to buy cars for each of the nine employees in his billboard company, he assumes that Becky is a widow. She doesn’t dissuade him from that thought, perhaps because she’s a bit bored and restless with her life and her job, kind of a mid-life crisis.
As Becky’s relationship with Walter advances, she spends as much time coming up with explanations for Joe about late nights at the office as she does courting Walter at swanky parties. Meanwhile, Chris has found a new girlfriend who is a running freak, while Becky’s widowed office pal, Steve, is lonely and out of sorts since the death of his own wife. Walter’s neighbor, Ginger, is finding out about employment after a lifetime of living off of trust funds, and his daughter Kenni is nervous about everyone’s expectations that she marry a wealthy boy she’s known since childhood. It seems like Becky could soon be selling ‘cars’ to everyone.
Highlights: Insight Theatre artistic director Maggie Ryan says that “Becky’s New Car,” a 2008 comedy by Steven Dietz, has been performed in 15 cities this year alone. That’s not surprising, given the witty dialogue and quirky characters that populate this two-act comedy. The Insight Theatre presentation directed stylishly by Tlaloc Rivas, which recently completed a two-week run, features engaging interpretations by a well chosen cast who get to perform on a very cool set designed by Sean Savoie. It’s a creative blend of a highway and guard rail offset by Becky’s ramshackle office and cluttered living room, lit by Savoie to underscore its amusing premise.
Other Info: Six performers take turns delivering amusing and endearing performances, led by Susie Wall as the ever hopeful Becky. Wall blends Becky’s innate good nature and loyalty with a desire for something new and intriguing, even if that leads to dilemmas entirely of her own making. While the situations can stretch the borders of believability at times, Wall maintains a semblance of realism that gives the show its core foundation.
John Contini offers a delightful turn as the easily confused Walter. His portrayal is both endearing and daffy, a millionaire who “played the hand” he was dealt as the son of a wildly successful baron who naturally inherited the family business. His courtship of Becky is kept on a largely silly level, although bits of poignancy slip through often enough to give it some ballast.
Jerry Russo shows his own comic skills as Becky’s common-sense husband who enjoys “standing on the roofs” of other people as a conquest of sorts. He conveys Joe’s basic befuddlement as well as his ease with his own skin and situation, the calming but boring influence on his wife and son. Scott McMaster is quite funny as odd man-child Chris, who just keeps hanging around the house while he leisurely searches for his life’s calling until he becomes smitten with a mysterious girlfriend who might change his destiny.
There’s also good work by Tommy Nolan as the off-kilter Ginger, a silk-stocking sort who nonetheless is up for the challenge of any type of labor now that she’s blown through her share of the family fortune. Lauren Meyer shines as Walter’s attractive if uncertain daughter Kenni, looking out for her dad’s love interest as well as wondering what to do with her own life. And Ron Haglof has great fun as Becky’s goofy office buddy Steve, the type of guy who loves showing slide shows, always looking for new angles while everybody else looks for the door.
Felia Davenport provides a nice array of costumes, from Walter’s tony threads to Chris’ Superman T-shirt, and Rivas keeps everything moving briskly enough to run through the stop signs in the occasionally problematic script. Still, Dietz makes some telling observations on this road trip through modern America as experienced in the heart and soul of Becky and her ‘new car.’
Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.