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BWW Review: BECKY'S NEW CAR at Theatre Tallahassee

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Showing at Theatre Tallahassee through June 27

BWW Review: BECKY'S NEW CAR at Theatre Tallahassee

Audiences starved for live theatre kick the tires on "Becky's New Car"

Many people lose themselves a little bit as middle age approaches. When "Becky's New Car" puts one woman's experience of realizing she has worked too hard and (perhaps) played too little on stage, surprises await.

"Becky's New Car" is the comedy chosen by Tallahassee Theatre to resume live shows after months of being dark (with the exception of virtual pieces) due to the pandemic. The play by Steven Dietz was first shown in Seattle at the ACT Theatre in 2008. It drove into Tallahassee on June 18, playing to sold-out audiences ready to welcome live shows and deal with pandemic seat spacing, masks and digital programs.

Becky/Rebecca Foster (Erika Stone) is always busy -- when the audience meets her, she's frenetically cleaning house. That's what she does when she isn't shouldering heavy duties at a car dealership. The audience quickly becomes part of Becky's world (even to the point that audience members are recruited to help her with this and that).

Becky's adult son, Chris (Spencer Lail) is as underworked as Becky is overworked, residing in her basement and oblivious to the idea of independence ("My son was loaded and the dishwasher was not." Becky's husband, Joe (Ken Catullo), works hard as a roofer.

A fateful call at work changes Becky's life trajectory. You never know what (or who) will fall into your lap when you're the only workaholic at work after everyone else but the janitor leaves.

Enter Walter Flood (Krystof Kage). Walter needs cars (lots of them) and he needs direction now that he's living a widower's life.

A man who buys nine cars because he just can't figure out what to get his staff as gifts may be en route to some other spur-of-the moment decisions.

You'll have to watch the play yourself to see those unfold.

Along the way, you'll learn that Joe is a little less "everyman" than he starts out portraying and is deeper than that.

Kage convinces audience members of Flood's gullibility, balanced with a sprinkling of hope ("I've learned to believe in sunrises.") Flood's daughter, Kenni (Faith MacGregor) comes across as a bright, sparkly highlight to the story, with a deep vein of authenticity that doesn't show up right away.

This play occurs on a set that has to function as a living room, an office cubicle, a car and an estate. The lighting could be the show's eighth character -- it takes on a critical role, due to the work of Patrick Campbell.

Just like someone on a drive without a particular destination will encounter unexpected twists and turns, the characters of "Becky's New Car" learn what happens when you take detours the map doesn't define well.

One interesting element was how Chris wove psychological terms throughout the show's developments. Maybe Plato and Bono are brothers in self-actualization.

Maybe Becky will find out whether a new car really is the emblem of a new life.

Stone is a believable protagonist who makes the audience want things to work out. Moments of levity are more numerous than moments of gravity, and that's as it should be.

Tallahassee audiences have been at a live theatre "dead end" for over a year. Director Jimmy Kontos, Stone and the rest of an able cast are the perfect road trip companions as a new journey begins.

For more information, visit Theatre Tallahassee.

Photo Credit: Theatre Tallahassee


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