Becky's New Car by Stephen Dietz

Dates and Venue 6 May - 5 June 2010 | Granville Island Stage, Vancouver

Director Rachel Ditor Set & Costume Design Alison Green Lighting John Webber Stage Manager Pamela Jakobs

Reviewer Roger Wayne Eberle

Becky’s New Car rolls into town this week, and it promises to be quite a ride. This latest Arts Club offering is a hilarious send-up which tells the tragicomic truth about how one woman deftly mishandles her relationships until she is forced to deal with unexpected consequences. Playwright Steven Dietz crafts a witty and memorable script satirizing that phenomenon known as the mid-life crisis, replete with fast-paced dialogues, a complex plot, and several cleverly constructed characterizations.

Right from the opening lines, the unexpected hits the audience with shades of Bertolt Brecht. The inimitable Deborah Williams, playing Becky, is superb at using alienation techniques to include everyone in the inside joke Brecht used so famously to remind his audiences that nothing being staged here is real. Or isn’t it. Ms. Williams’ standout performance is about as authentic as any gifted director could hope to evoke.

Rachel Ditor has done an admirable job of directing the entire talented cast who work wonderfully well together in this comedy. Jackson Davies uses a nice bit of soft sell in his understated role as the fumbling millionaire who ends up buying more than just a fleet of cars from Becky while causing her to question whether life with her husband Joe is giving her everything she needs. Like the tragic mother trapped in a dysfunctional relationship in Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, Becky wants more from life than he can give.

This is a plot that expands to take in even more situations as things begin to constrict for our protagonist, Becky, played with unstoppable vigour by Ms. Williams. Each character contributes a nifty nuance that Becky bounces off of in some special way. Hrothgar Matthews knocks out a passionate performance as Steven the car salesman, damned to perpetually roll the millstone of his wife’s tragic death up the same old mountain. Kevin Stark brings an energetic restlessness and some delicious psycho-babble to his role as Becky’s son Chris, a freeloading psychology student. Solid performances are also delivered by Lindsey Angell, Pia Shandel and Cavan Cunningham.

Well, if the master of maudlin, dear old Leonard Cohen, was right when he delivered the ultimate indictment of the unfaithful woman, singing “When she returned she was nobody’s wife,” then at least there is one sure cure for love, and that is to take Becky’s New Car for a spin. This is a play that is well worth the fare.

© 2010 Roger Wayne Eberle