**** (4 Stars)
Quite a Ride!
What a treat to see a dress rehearsal for a play written and directed by an acclaimed playwright. Even though this comedic farce has already traveled around the country, we could see Steven Dietz making notes, fine-tuning his Austin production.
This clever show draws the audience into the life of a lady of “a certain age” who has decisions to make. Although she has a somewhat comfortable life (good husband, indecisive son), she isn’t completely happy. Given a chance at an exciting new life, should she take it?
The plot, staging and terrific acting alone kept me engaged, and the actors “breaking the (proverbial) fourth wall” and inviting audience members into the scene certainly held everyone’s attention.
Whatever your stage of life, see this show. You will not be disappointed.
Ronda Dale Kirk
Austin (Spicewood) TX USA
* * * ½ (3.5 Stars)
“Becky’s. . .” a Joy Ride
About 40 persons – I among them — on a rainy Wednesday night (6/2) took a “test drive” in “Becky’s New Car.” This dress rehearsal was a relaxed and enjoyable spin around the block, even though playwright Steven Dietz of Seattle and Austin was in the audience furiously taking notes.
Dietz was like a dedicated mechanic readying for a pit stop. Appropriately so. He’s also the play’s director. This production still needs a bit of fine tuning, but only professional drivers will notice a “ping” here and there.
As we mature, “life narrows and the unexpected fades away,” goes a line in his play. Not for Becky. Smartly played by Austinite Lauren Lane (of the “The Nanny” fame), Becky is an overworked car dealership paper-pusher with a slobby husband (Chris Gibson as Joe the roofer) and a psychology-spouting son (Josh Meyer as Chris) who is overdue for leaving the nest. (You will love this newcomer’s goofy physicality.)
Enter widower Walter Flood (Lucien Douglas), a billboard magnate,
and Becky’s life begins to accelerate and veer off course in a charming sequence of entanglements. The storyline and this production have “got legs,” or in this case “wheels.” This is a farce with a capital F, but it’s not without its poignant moments.
The overindulged daughter (Sydney Andrews); the neurotic, long grieving car salesman (Ben Prager); the disenfranchised socialite (Babs George), all are exquisitely cast and well-played. We’ve met these characters before. They populate our lives. And they ARE funny.
The Whisenhunt Stage at the Zach – an intimate, square space — lends itself to audience involvement, and there was plenty of that to the surprise and delight of the audience.
You may think the plot is implausible and the epilogue-like ending a bit quirky, but rest assured: real life is happening just as serendipitously somewhere right now.
And Dietz has crafted some memorable lines, little take-away gems for theatregoers:
* “I’ve had a nice day. Let’s not ruin it by having a talk.”
* “If you don’t like the people at my party, I’ll send them home and bring in some other people”
* “Go kick love’s ass.”
* “Life is messy.”
* “You’re a regular dick.”
So, jump in the car, hit the gas and head for the Zach. “Becky’s …” is a joy ride.