Review of Becky’s New Car
Written by Steven Dietz
Directed by Carl Jordan
Sonoma Arts Live
For tickets / schedule :
Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma
RUN: June 9-25, 2017
RATING: 5 of 5 stars
(June 18, 2017)
Complacency and lack of self-awareness lead to questionable but highly entertaining decisions as Becky attempts to recapture the lost passion in her life. Struggling with a stressful, unfulfilling job, apathetic son, and dull existence, she reaches for the first life-line flung her way—a rich, successful widower who confuses her for an available, intriguing woman who can cure his loneliness. Rather than correct his assumption that her husband passed away, she plays along, tired of being the one constantly giving to others without receiving support in return.
The situation quickly spirals out of control, leading to deliciously awkward exchanges, and although it is not a fairytale ending, Becky is forced to truly examine herself, revitalizing the spark of self-confidence, and ultimately deepening more relationships than she breaks.
Not often performed on the West Coast, playwright Steven Dietz is a master of agile dialogue and duplicitous, yet lovable characters. The fourth wall is non-existent in this play; Becky invites the audience into her home, complete with toilet paper, asking to collate documents, and direct appeals for fashion advice. The collaboration between Bruce Lackovic’s set design and Frank Sarubbi’s lighting creates a fantastical mixture of locations, including projections of high speed chases on an imaginative backdrop of bubbles.
Melissa Claire is bewitching as Becky Foster, capturing a burned out middle-aged woman who has a spark of vitality fighting to break through and turn her into the vivacious younger version of herself who was daring and romantic. With rich lines dropping hilarious and wise observations on life, she inhabits the character in an irresistible performance. Matt Witthaus as her down-to-earth, practical husband is a solid foil for her antics, and demonstrates a strength of character that is admirable, while retaining his sense of fun.
The elegant and bewildered Walter Flood (Mike Pavone) does not realize what is going on, remaining aloof to the main action of the play, whereas his daughter, Kensington Flood (Katie Kelley) dives right in, manicured nails and all. Her attempts to find someone real who cares for her without reference to money or background form a parallel love story, with an ending just as thoughtful.
Carl Jordan’s direction takes advantage of the intimate vintage theater to draw the audience into the story, while fine tuning comedic timing in rapid fire exchanges. Becky’s New Car is a sizzling comedy, and not because of the hot weather we’ve been having in Sonoma County. The cast is on fire, with a high caliber play and talented artistic team. Sonoma Arts Live is the place to be for the enchanting Becky’s New Car.