By Roxy Orcutt
There is a huge benefit in going to see a play you know nothing about. I truly didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Becky’s New Car at Lyric Arts Main Street Stage. Being unfamiliar with this play about suburban desperation from prolific playwright Steve Dietz, I was pleased to find this play to be funny, dark, sweet and surprisingly interactive, the funny and the dark mixing at times creating a pitch black dark comedy.
As usual, Lyric Arts makes impressive use of a limited stage space creating Becky’s world, which is jarringly ordinary, but that is the point. We see Becky’s life laid out on stage. Her home that has all the trappings of a dream episode of House Hunters, big overstuffed furniture, granite countertops, huge fridge. Ideal, if not for the clothes and magazines strewn everywhere. The same goes for Becky’s office at a local car dealership, a small, functional desk, a modest laptop and subpar office supplies. In all this familiarity we encounter in Becky’s New Car, the actors are tasked with creating an engaging world and story, and they rise to the occasion. Particularly lead actress Kirsten Sawyer, in her sweater sets and Target shoes, is luminous as Becky. You want Becky to succeed, even when she is doing something less-than-admirable. The rest of the cast sparkle in their roles, Ryan James Coble as the schlubby, sweet husband who manages to avoid veering into sitcom-y gimmicks, Matt Berdahl, the lazy but smart college-aged son and Matt McNabb as a completely off-the-rails co-worker of Becky’s who manages to turn a horrific personal tragedy into the biggest laughs of the show.
The second act of Becky’s New Car, we are brought into a different world, the world of Walter, a widowed millionaire played wonderfully by Bill Marshall, and introduced to two new characters who give the story added depth and a new American way of life, the rich way of life, Walter’s sweet daughter, Kenni, played by Ilana Henckel, and the bawdy Ginger, played by Kate Beahen. These characters, with their lunches on a brick veranda overlooking the sea and fancy dinner parties, show Becky, or Rebecca as she is known to them, a new life granted to her because of a new car.
Weaving throughout the play is the story of Mrs. Tipton, a tragic character who Becky comes closer and closer to identifying with as the show goes on. As we reach the end, the story grows more serious and here is where the audience interaction from earlier in the show is nearly forgotten, until it is used to grant some levity in a particular heavy scene, it was done seamlessly by the actors and the caught-off-guard audience member.
Becky’s New Car is a great piece of modern American theater and the cast and crew at Lyric Arts produce a wonderful version. It will spark conversation afterwards and the character of Becky and her journey, will stick with you for days.
A little bit about Roxy Orcutt:
Roxy Orcutt, a self-professed “Professional Halloween Lover” lives in Anoka with her husband, children and various pets, including a black cat, of course. Roxy runs the website The Halloween Honey, a year-round destination for all things Halloween. www.halloweenhoney.com