Nov 6 – Drive on

Another review.  This time it is Becky’s New Car by Steven Dietz, making it’s world premiere at ACT Theatre in Seattle.

I have to say I liked this play. It was funny, and warm, and enjoyable. Not too deep, but not shallow either.  Having recently finished acting in The Man Who Came to Dinner, by Kaufman and Hart, I felt kinship with this play’s screwball heart.

Becky works at a car dealership processing the loans and paperwork.  She is overworked and under-appreciated.  She is steadily, if not excitedly, married to a roofer, and has the obligatory slacker psychology grad student son who likes to psycho analyze her.

One night she is working late when a very rich man, Walter, comes in looking to buy nine cars for his employees for appreciation gifts.  He claims he isn’t good at buying presents and asks her to do it for him.  Not wanting to turn down the sale of nine cars, she agrees.

In the ensuing coversation Walter, greiving for his own dead wife, mistakenly thinks Becky is a widow.  Not wanting to lose the sale, and also enjoying the obvious attention he is giving her, she doesn’t correct him, assuming that he will get his cars and be on his way, and that will be that.  What’s the harm? Oh, you know what’s coming next.

Of course he comes back later to persue her, and she is intrigued.  What follows is the classic mistaken identity/little white lie turns into writhing pit of chaos for everyone involved story.

The play had great screwball one liners.  The characters are cliches: The bored wife, the stable and intitaly clueless husband, the slacker son, the rich man who is surprised to find himself attracted to a real (read working class) woman. Still, you don’t mind because they are played well by the actors and are sympathetic.

The set was minimal, and the staging well done.  There was some audience interaction, which added to the laughs, and only at one point which I thought slowed the pace down too much, when three audience members were asked to come out on stage to help her get ready for her Cinderella ball moment.

I like to go on Pay What You Can Nights, because I’m a acting student who can’t afford the full price tickets.  When I go to the PWYC nights, I’m always expecting to see more poor college student types, but it is almost invariably the blue haired crowd that attends.  At this particular performance the average age must have been 68. I only saw one other person my age.  So when the poor ladies were called up on stage, it took them a good while to get there.  And at the end when the audience wanted to give them a standing ovation, I saw more than one person having a hard time getting out of their chairs.

But, really aside from that small snag, I thought it all worked wonderfully.

It closes this weekend (Nov 16th, 2008).  Go see it if you can.


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