Two Thumbs Up for “Becky Shaw”

Picture this: it’s nearly dark, the audience is chatting away while you all are waiting for the play to start. Then, all of a sudden, the lights turn on and everyone grows silent. Before you is a girl on a bed watching some bizarre news story where everyone dies in the end. Sounds pretty random, right? Well, for those who went to see “Becky Shaw” on April 1, this is a familiar thought.

Written by Gina Gionfriddo, “Becky Shaw” is a play unlike anything else I’ve seen. It leaves you thinking “what the hell did I just watch,” and it also mentally challenges you.

In the opening scene, we try to understand the relationship between the wealthy Suzanna (Korie Sharrar) and the sharp-tongued Max (junior Adam Barstow). Are they spouses? Siblings? Lovers? Longtime friends? Clues pop up one after another as Suzanna expresses her fury at her mother for showing up with a new, younger, lower-class boyfriend when they’re supposed to meet to discuss her recently deceased, wealthy father’s estate.

When Mom (junior Kaylie Taylor) shows up, it’s pretty clear where Max gets his personality. Even after we’ve gotten it straight that Max and Suzanna were raised together – when her parents took him in as a child – what happens after Mom leaves is quite shocking. All that and we haven’t even met the title character yet. Becky Shaw (senior Annie Page) shows up as the blind date arranged for Max by Suzanna and her new husband, the sensitive, nurturing, would-be writer Andrew (junior Lane Schlicher). Then things get really complicated as the plot continues.

To be honest, as I sat in the audience, it wasn’t until Page stepped on stage that I truly believed the characters. Every time she was on the stage, I either wanted to slap her for being so devious or pull her away and get her to the nearest psychologist. For me, she truly brought life to the play.

My second favorite character of the night was Max. Barstow’s portrayal was pretty dramatic, but the audience ate up every second of him. I think my favorite line from the play was “your mom told me your mother’s dead and your father dresses you like a gay hustler.” Needless to say, the most flawed characters of the play were my personal favorites.

In terms of props, I have to say that senior directors Sarah Van Duesen and Katie Paolacci did a good job. After seeing the play, I went online and checked out props from past Broadway productions of the play, and I think they really made it work. I’m no expert, but in comparison to the sets I saw online, the play can definitely hold its own. It didn’t need some lavish background to intrigue its audience, and I really admired that.

After having seen this play, I must tell those who missed out that I’m truly sorry you missed the wonderful experience. Though at first I wasn’t certain about the play, by the end I was fully invested. As all the characters stood on stage in the final scene, with all their flaws before us, all I could do was clap. Seeing as I have no more to say, I feel it’s appropriate to end my review with the last words of the play, “I’m going to buy you all a good meal and some good wine.”

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