by Shirley Lorraine
Becky’s New Car offers delightful ride
Ready for a theater experience that will make you laugh, touch you and possibly even involve you? It is waiting for you now at the Santa Paula Theater Center in the form of Becky’s New Car by Steven Dietz. The engine is revving up and the lanes are clear.
Originally commissioned around 2007 by a Seattle realtor as a birthday gift for his theater-loving wife, this fresh offering is about real people, in real situations. The play is set in an unspecified city but is identified as “a town very much like Seattle”. No wonder, since author Dietz was a part-time resident there.
The satirical, out-of-the-box comedy offers insights into the complexities of middle class life which is predictably full of routines, angst, potentially life-changing decisions, and familiar expectations. The clever staging involves four settings, all contained in one set. Threading the living room, office space, car and terrace together are roads that converge center stage, symbolizing how easily lives can veer off course if the wrong road is taken.
Becky Foster (Cynthia Killion) is a middle-class woman holding down a demanding yet mind-numbingly routine job who has a college age son (Andrew Garrett) living in the basement, a blue-collar husband (Scott Blanchard) who works as a roofer, and wanderlust in her heart. She is presented with an unexpected opportunity by wealthy widower Walter Flood (Ronald Rezac) which has the potential to completely upend her life. How she copes with the increasingly complex quagmire she has allowed to form is the crux of the story.
Along this stretch of the road we meet the widowers’ daughter Kenni (Jennifer Skutley) as well as Ginger (Aileen-Marie Scott), an unskilled socialite who is in the process of going to the school of hard knocks. The play takes more turns than the Grand Prix in reaching a surprising climax.
The acting throughout is absorbing. The audience is immediately put at ease and the action continues as though a comfortable conversation is taking place. It just seems natural when Becky invites members of the audience to participate in small ways, adding to the feeling of just hanging out with the characters, particularly Becky. It also helps that actor Killion has experience in, and a knack for, improvisation and ad-libbing.
Ms. Killion is well matched by Rezac, a Ventura County theater veteran of deservable renown. Their scenes together are particularly authentic. Scott Blanchard as Becky’s husband of 28 years brings forth a solid, quiet and commanding voice of reason. Son Chris (Garrett) is a walking psychology term textbook which he handles well. Skutley is given little to do yet makes the most of it she can. Scott shines in her secondary yet important role.
Becky’s New Car drives off the lot smoothly and with a full tank of gas. Take a spin.
Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM, Sundays 2:30 PM through Oct. 1
Adults $24, Students and Seniors $22