Theatre Review: “Becky’s New Car”
In the world of theatre, the “fourth wall” is defined as the imaginary “wall” at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play.
In other words, it is the imaginary line that separates a production from its audience and the allusion of what is going on within the parameters of that stage is temporarily real life. The fourth wall is what really separates theatre – it is the heart and soul of any type of acting performance. It is also the reason you smirk whenever Jim finds himself looking into the camera on an episode of “The Office.”
For most pieces of theatre, the fourth wall is what gives it life and draws the audience in from the moment the curtain opens.
Luckily for the audience, Becky’s New Car is not one of those pieces.
From its opening scene in which we learn that the title character (Melissa Johnston Price) is completely unhappy with most aspects of her life, the fourth wall that is normally present is nowhere to be seen. The performers, Price especially, continually acknowledge and even interact with specific audience members and even go as far as to request additional lighting from the sound booth. This aspect of the show causes what would normally be a simple character monologue to be an honest request for the audience to look inside and really get to know the character at hand.
And with a show like this, you can’t help but take a peek inside and love what you find.
Becky’s New Car is an age old tragedy told as a comedy. Becky is going through a midlife crisis of sorts; her job has all but swallowed her whole, her relationship with her teenage son is as enthusiastic as a high school janitor and her husband is one Miller Light away from being Larry the Cable Guy.
For most, this is a story we have all seen before – either in our own lives, the lives of those around us or in some sappy movie that those around us forced us to watch.
What we normally don’t see, however, is the comedic value that comes along with it. And with Becky, there are plenty of laughs to be had – from her bad luck as an accidental car salesman to the lingo that escapes her child’s lips. Somehow, in-between your heart sinking for Becky and her numerous situation(s), you will find yourself cracking up at the escapades that lead to them actually occurring.
Director Billy Christopher Maupin has put together a phenomenal cast who interact on stage like an improv comedy group together for years. The comedic timing is near perfect, the physical comedy is delivered with ease and the flow is as cool as the other side of the pillow.
And of course, in typical Maupin fashion, the bells and whistles of theatre have been sacrificed and replaced with a solid foundation. You aren’t going to find flashy set designs or effects on the stage of Becky; but if that’s what you’re in the mood for, I believe the new Transformer film just dropped on DVD. No, Becky replaces those elements with a basic set design and simple set changes which allows the audience to become engrossed in the story being told on stage instead of getting distracted by unnecessary elements.
If you’re expecting a broken down woman who wants to be the next star of “Real Housewives of Thespian County,” you probably won’t fit in well here. This is not a typical tale of mid-life crisis and not one to be taken lightly. No, this is a what “The Young and the Restless” wishes it had every weekday afternoon. This is the story of a woman who simply allows life to become a little bit too much and the comedy, tragedy, and everything in between that unfolds as a result.
This is Becky.
So pay close attention. Because what she has to say is well worth hearing.
“Becky’s New Car” is playing at the Hanover Tavern through Nov. 6 on the Bradley Theatre Stage. For tickets and showtimes, visit http://www.hanovertavern.org or call (804) 537-5050. Photo by Jay Paul.
Chad Brown is a straight male living in Richmond. He enjoys bourbon on the rocks and appreciates a firm ass. Male or female.
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