AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Steven Dietz
Directed by James Nelson
Presented by Dragon Productions
Dragon Productions Theatre
2120 Broadway St., Redwood City, CA / (650) 493-2006

Reviewed by Judy Richter

If left uncorrected, little misunderstandings can lead to big trouble. That's what happens in "Becky's New Car," presented by Dragon Productions.

In this 2008 comedy by Steven Dietz, Rebecca Foster, or Becky, (Mary Lou Torre) works as the office manager in a luxury car dealership. She and her husband, Joe (Ben Ortega), a successful roofer, have been married 28 years and have a 26-year-old son, Chris (Sam Bertken), a psychology major who still lives at home.

Becky's life has become humdrum until late one afternoon when a wealthy widower, Walter Flood (Kevin Copps), shows up and buys nine cars to give to his employees the next day. He mistakenly assumes that she's widowed, too, and she doesn't correct him.

One thing leads to another, and then she's attending a party at his posh home on an island near Seattle, where she meets Walter's adult daughter, Kensington, or Kenni, (Roneet Aliza Rahamim). Soon she's spending more time there while trying to keep Joe unaware of her activities.

Thanks to a conversation with Steve (Jim Johnson), a salesman at the car dealership, Joe learns what's happening. That knowledge and a subsequent event put their marriage and commitment to a tough test.

It's probably no coincidence that Walter and Steve are still grieving for their late wives, though in different ways. Steve is both ridiculous and hilarious as he describes how his wife met her death on a hike with him.

The play's other middle-aged character, Ginger (Helena G. Clarkson), a friend of Walter, is dealing with her own loss now that her substantial inheritance has evaporated, leaving her impoverished with no employable skills.

At the end, though, Walter, Steve and Ginger all find ways to forge ahead with their lives. Likewise, Joe and Becky manage to deal with the tests their marriage has undergone.

As directed by James Nelson, all of this transpires with laughs and insight. Torre is outstanding as Becky goes through a range of emotions while being onstage for most of the two-act play's two hours. Thus she provides the glue that holds everything together. Acting by the rest of the cast is somewhat uneven, but not enough to detract from the show's enjoyment.

Julia Sussner's set, complemented by Will Poulin's lighting, works well in the intimate space. The costumes are by Scarlett Kellum, the ambient sound by Lance Huntley.

With its dark and absurdist undertones, "Becky's New Car" is a fun ride.

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