Becky’s New Car, written by Steven Dietz and directed by Ilene Chalmers, is a fourth-wall busting farce with an enormous heart. Now playing at Bowie Community Theatre, this production takes the audience on a wild— and sometimes participatory— ride through the mid-life crisis of its main character, Becky, played by Rebecca Ellis.
Ellis is absolutely phenomenal as the titular character. She projects a believable vulnerability as her character is swept into an unintended love affair with a local millionaire. In this complex play hinging on a plot device which finds her paramour mistakenly assuming that Becky is a widow, Ellis navigates the fast-paced humor and quiet pain her character radiates as woman caught in the throes of regret and apprehension.
Matt Leyendecker provides a good foil to Ellis in the role of Becky’s husband, Joe. Joe represents a common archetype in media: that of the loyal, yet somewhat frumpy, devoted husband. Leyendecker delivers a smooth performance, hitting notes of farce and disappointment with equal skill.
Walter, Becky’s millionaire lover, is played by Greg Anderson. Anderson is stately and composed. He delivers his lines in the measured, confident tones of those born into wealth.
Joe and Becky’s son Chris (Thomas Peter), provides a bit of levity as a graduate student in psychology who, much to the dismay of his parents, refuses to leave home. His outbursts, often directed towards Becky, concern the subjects of his studies. Peter transforms this dorky character into someone likable as he rants about hindsight bias and paranormal emotional transference.
Supporting characters are accorded a special importance in this production. Each of them sweeps in and out to teach Becky something about herself: David Chalmers charms as Steve, Becky’s fastidious vegan co-worker who is aging and obsessing over the death of his late wife. Meghan Sova is a delight Kenni, Walter’s adult daughter who is pushing back against the bonds of her upbringing. Ginger, Walter’s longtime neighbor and destitute former trust fund recipient, is played with a subtle and convincing humor by Barbara Webber.
Set Designer Malia Murray takes us from Becky’s broken home, to Walter’s stately mansion, to the small office in which Becky works, and to the open road with aplomb. Hillary Glass, the Costume Designer, accents the work with appropriate pieces for each character in each setting.
Lighting Designer Garrett Hyde, who turns out to be a character in this work in his own way, did a superb job of hitting the queues which bounce between each scene. Becky moves back-and-forth across the stage to different settings in a matter of seconds, so nailing the timing was critical. Mission accomplished.
Much of this play also relies on sound design, delivered here by Richard Atha-Nicholls. The choice of sound effects never detracts or distracts from the fast pacing and the music choices were tasteful and appropriate to the plot.
Becky’s New Car is an exciting farce which explodes onto the stage with a manic energy and subtle introspection. Don’t let its humorous delivery fool you, this production deals with some heavy subject matter by guiding the audience gently through the follies of woman trying to find herself.
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.
Becky’s New Car plays through July 29, 2018 at Bowie Community Theatre performing at Bowie Playhouse— 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, Bowie, MD. Tickets can be purchased online.