Monday, April 18, 2016

Charming "Becky" shows off a great Dietz script

Veronica Tuttell and Jake Friang in Becky's New Car (Ted Jaquith)
Becky's New Car
Phoenix Theatre
Through May 1, 2016

Becky's New Car is a terrific script by Steven Dietz, a prolific playwright who spend half of each year here, so we can call him "local!" Part of its joy is that it showcases the life of a middle-aged woman. How many scripts can you think of, off hand, that have the main character be a woman, much less middle aged!? You can enjoy the play at Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds, a little theater that knows its comedy.

Becky doesn't have a terrible life, it's fairly ordinary. She's got a demanding but fairly ordinary job in a car dealership. She's got a loving, fairly ordinary husband who, less-ordinarily, pays attention to little things she likes and listens to her. She has a young adult son who lives at home, still, and so poses a fairly ordinary problem.

She also doesn't think of herself as a person who would do unusual things, like fall into an affair. Yet, here she is, meeting a rich widower, letting the rich widower mistake her for a widow, and somehow she's sitting in a car, driving to a party, wondering how she got here.

That's a taste of a gently funny story with a few too many coincidences that draw us in and poke us in our ordinary lives, too. Sometimes, we need a wake-up call to recognize just how good much of our lives are, and how lucky we are to be in the middle of their ordinary moments.

Directed by Ted Jaquith, Christine Mosere stars as Becky. She has the right befuddled attitude and weary stress to exemplify Becky's inner life. She also has an adorable giggle that sounds like it's surprised out of her when she gets flirted with.

Rick Wright plays Joe, the much-smarter-than-Becky-thinks husband. He has a low-key delivery that fits the character very well. Jake Friang is fun as her psychology spouting son. Michael G. McFadden plays a dapper widower, and Veronica Tuttell does a nice job as the upper-class daughter, Kensington. Steve Heiret plays a sad car salesman, and Melanie Calderwood has an uncharacteristically tiny role (since she is so funny, she usually gets cast in main roles) as a society woman fallen on very hard times.

The compact set by Jim Thompson is a great way to manage several locations, including the demand by the script that Becky be able to walk seamlessly from her living room to her office and back. Huge traffic signs painted on the wall are also symbolic of Becky's journey.

You should definitely try to get to Edmonds to see this show. It ends May 1st. It's a fun production of a really great script.