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Becky’s New Car – MBT Summer Rep in the Walton Theatre

By Teri Grimes

Originally commissioned and produced by ACT Theatre in Seattle, the 2008 comedy Becky’s New Car by Steven Dietz is a paean to the dubious joys of the mid-life crisis. This rollicking ride with Becky Foster, played with depth and great sympathy by Bonnie Brennan Hollingsworth, is a masterful, heartfelt comedy that sparkles with witty dialogue, an utter lack of fourth wall, and moments of touching pathos.
Directed by WWU’s Beth Leonard, the show is staged in the round, and the script works delightfully with the intimate setting as the actors acknowledge and address the audience throughout the play. At various times, Becky asks the audience to help with a leaky roof, collate paperwork, and help her with an important decision in her personal life. The simple set gives us locations vital to Becky’s life – her home, her office at the car dealership, and the terrace of Walter Flood’s mansion. Becky races from one locale to another with increasing difficulties as the plot escalates.
The theme of Becky’s New Car is a line that Becky delivers – that when a woman says “she wants a new car, she wants a new life.” Well, Becky wants a new car. And when millionaire, Walter Flood stumbles into Becky’s office late one night to buy nine cars as gifts to his staff – Becky’s new life commences. In fact, her new life tumbles into a series of deceits so tangled that Becky’s life becomes absolutely Shakespearean in its machinations. Oh, it is a tangled web she weaves! The lies and silences practiced by Becky nearly make her the villain in her own story, but Dietz never lets Becky off the hook, thereby making a truly funny comedy into something a lot deeper.
The cast of the show is stellar. They deftly handle the challenge of balancing farce with true emotional depth. Hollingsworth is delightful and completely believable in the title role, and she is supported by strong performances from the entire cast. Local theatre guru, Sean Walbeck, plays Becky’s blue collar husband, Joe. Walbeck’s honest-to-the-bone acting makes us both laugh and cry for his long-suffering character. Becky’s new love interest, Walter Flood, is played with devastating and quirky charm by Curt Simmons. Simmons comic timing is absolutely masterful, and we hope Bellingham audiences get the opportunity to see more of him. Shae Hughes, a recent Western grad, plays car salesman Steve, a self-involved widower. Hughes’ energy is contagious and he has a delightful monologue that left the audience gasping from belly laughs. Western theatre students, Sam Schultz and Shelby Windom play the twenty-something’s who meet and fall in love. The twist in the plot is that Kenni (Windom) is Walter’s daughter, and Chris (Schultz) is Becky and Joe’s son. Oops. Sam Schultz’ grasp of his characters psycho-babble is very funny, and Windom gives a smaller role unexpected depth. Seattle actress, Imogen Love, sizzles in the role of Ginger, who has recently lost all of her trust-fund wealth, and now works as a bartender, giving an entirely new meaning to the phrase “mid-life crisis.”
Becky’s New Car is a wonderful ride. Dietz has created a disarmingly thoughtful comedy that will live with the audience long after the lights go down.

July 15 – August 10, 2014
Becky’s New Car plays 7/20 and 8/10 at 3:00 p.m.
7/23, 7/26, 7/29, 8/1, and 8/7 at 7:30 p.m.
$25.00 general admission/$12.50 Students