Theatre Review: A funny mid-life crisis if there ever was one
Oh Becky, what a tangled web we weave when we practise to deceive. Even if it is done at an innocent pace at first.
Powerhouse Theatre’s latest offering of Steven Dietz’s boundary breaking play, Becky’s New Car, takes the audience on a ride of emotional proportions — in a good way.
There’s lots of laughter, as was apparent at the play’s opening night in Vernon on Wednesday, and then there are those moments that will have you relating to what you are seeing on stage, even if, at times, it is a tad far fetched.
Take Becky Foster’s dilemma, which is fully realized by an all-encompassing and real performance by Janet Anderson.
She’s stuck in a rut: pushing paper at her job in a car dealership, so bored with her life and feeling unsupported by her family that she has to address the audience in a Shirley Valentine kind of way. However, in this case, we are the wall, and are expected to respond when Becky asks our opinion or needs toilet paper to be put away, or papers to be collated.
The lighting operator also needs to get the spotlight ready quickly whenever Becky needs to move from her living room to her office — no set changes here!
Joining her on this middling cruise through mid-life is her understanding and too-good-to-be-true roofer husband Joe (Willem Dafoe doppelganger Howard Joynt, if Dafoe ever played easy going and sweet) and her psychology-babbling son Chris (Justin Kopy, showing increasing maturity with every role he takes on), still living at home in his mid-20s.
Enter Becky’s escape in the form of widower millionaire Walter Flood (the expressive John Lomas) who wanders into the car dealership one night wanting to buy nine brand, new cars for his employees. (The guy supposedly made some of his millions from owning billboards... Boy, am I in the wrong business.)
He’s not the only widower in the picture. Becky’s coworker, Steve (Dave Sayer, making his presence known), lost his wife in a hiking accident, while Walter’s formerly rich neighbour, now working as a bartender at the Holiday Inn, Ginger (the scene-stealing Sybolla Franje), both reminisce, in their own hilarious way, of what they once had.
Meanwhile Walter’s daughter, Kenni (the lovely Emily Heayn) is striving for a little attention of her own — from her father, who tends to shower her with gifts she doesn’t need, and the boy-man she has just started running around with.
In the second act, all these stories collide in a mistaken identity premise, and at the centre of it all is Becky, back to where she started because of decisions of her own making — not that any of us should judge.
I know there’s a moral in all this somewhere, but it’s best to just enjoy the sights along the drive.
The play is aptly directed by Matt Brown, who has a way of eking the best out of his actors. Most apparent is the natural feeling Anderson has on stage, whether conversing with herself, breaking down the fourth wall in her interactions with the audience, or kibitzing with her co-stars. The dialogue is sharp, and I especially loved how the conversation was real — complete with interruptions and talking over each other. (At least it felt real.)
Powerhouse, as always, also delivers another great set (courtesy of designers Cara Nunn, Kristine Larson and their crew) with the triage of Becky’s home, office and the outside of Walter’s island abode, complete with stone walls and timber frame.
Do yourself a favour, and go along for the ride.
Becky’s New Car continues at Powerhouse Theatre until March 2 at 8 p.m. (No shows Mondays) with a matinée on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.
— Kristin Froneman is the arts and entertainment editor at The Morning Star.