EDGE Review: Becky’s New Car
"Becky’s New Car" is remarkably entertaining, sprinkled with screwball comedy and an underlying parable.by Christopher Verleger, EDGE
According to Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living. If you were to ask Becky, the narrator, subject and star of Steven Dietz’s delightful dramatic comedy, “Becky’s New Car,” now upstage at 2nd Story Theatre, an unworthy life tends to go hand-in-hand with the desire for — of all things — a shiny new set of wheels.
Middle-aged wife and mother, Becky, portrayed earnestly and excitedly by Margaret Melozzi, works a dead-end job at an auto dealership while keeping house for her well-meaning albeit complacent husband of 28 years, Joe (a stoic yet sincere Kerry Callery), and their underachieving son, Chris (Jeff DeSisto, hilariously haughty and hyper).
To ensure everyone comprehends the gravity of her mundane existence, Becky addresses the audience directly and even handpicks individual members for assistance with home and office errands. While her deliberate approach is seemingly imposing and disruptive, it provides some of the evening’s most howlingly funny moments and helps us better understand her behavior.
Half the stage resembles a simple living room, with an office reception desk occupying the other half. The rooms appear to be almost interchangeable as Becky races back and forth between the two, answering the phones and retrieving items mistakenly left behind, conveying the prison-like confines and demands of her life at work and home.
An escape, or reprieve, from this vicious cycle arrives one night when a wealthy widower, Walter (a genial Vince Petronio), becomes taken with Becky after purchasing nine cars all at once. Her supposed sales ability does not go unnoticed by her boss, Buckley, which raises the curiosity of her high-strung, long-winded co-worker, Steve (F. William Oakes, never better or more amusing).
Little does Steve know that Becky’s indiscretions are not with Buckley, but rather Walter, who mistakenly assumed her spouse also died. Despite her best efforts, Becky eventually has to face the music, as much as she would like to just get in her car and keep on driving.
Granted, Becky has no one to blame but herself, and while her conduct may be unbecoming, it’s hard to dislike her, perhaps because everyone can relate to wanting to escape from the arduous routines of our daily activity.
Courtesy of Mark Peckham’s tight direction and fine performances from his entire cast, “Becky’s New Car” is remarkably entertaining, sprinkled with screwball comedy and an underlying parable.