I caught the last performance of Essex Theatre Company’s drama Becky Shaw. The company chose an intense play to end the season with that dealt with some troubled people. However, it is a show that deals realistically with the issues it brings up and does not offer easy answers or even all the answers.
Becky Shaw is brutally honest in a way that can sometimes be shocking. Just a few things the characters are faced with is the temptation of infidelity, dependence, and self-harm along with much more…
The show begins in the aftermath of Suzanna Slater’s (Emily Madan) father’s death. Secrets come to light, the family is broke, and Suzanna’s mother (Anne Marie Holzhauer) is now dating a much younger man, which causes much conflict between mother and daughter.
Suzanna’s cynical foster brother Max (Matthew Rock) contributes financially to help the family, but also attempts to get Suzanna over her grief with blunt advice and trivialization. This leads to one night of comfort in each other’s arms before the audience is brought forward almost one year to see what has developed…
The crux of Becky Shaw is a blind date that leads to disaster. Newlyweds Suzanna and Andrew (Evan Fazziola) set up the womanizing Max with Andrew’s coworker Becky Shaw (Elizabeth Abair). Unfortunately the date is interrupted when they’re held up at gunpoint, and the trauma of the incident negatively affects the unstable Becky.
Max sleeps with Becky that night, kicks her out, and then wants nothing more to do with her. Becky is determined to speak with Max about the robbery and desires to be with him, but he avoids her, and so Andrew and Suzanna are drawn into the resulting mess of a situation. Becky attempts to threaten Max by revealing that he once slept with Suzanna, Andrew starts spending excess time with Becky to comfort her despite Susanna’s displeasure, and Suzanna and Max’s relationship begins to get turbulent as well.
Does the show have a happy ending? I wouldn’t say so…in the end Suzanna and Andrew seem to have renewed dedication for each other, Susan is content sticking by her lover who is with her for money, and Max and Becky are miserable and excluded. Who knows what the future may bring for any of these characters? However, I’m sure they will continue to be mixing up each other’s lives…
Not everything is easy or fair, and sometimes characters make decisions they know are selfish, but often they are just attempting to do the right thing even if that means it’s at the expense of someone else.
What do you owe strangers who pass into your life? What do you owe those who’ve been around for years? Becky Shaw asks those questions, but it doesn’t really give us an answer, and I don’t think it has to.
Every member of the cast was playing a flawed character, but they all succeeded in making their points of views understandable.
I saw Evan Fazziola earlier this summer in his outstanding performance as Benedict in ETC’s Much Ado About Nothing. I was excited to see him in another production in a very different role, and he didn’t disappoint as the charitable Andrew drawn to damaged women.Emily Madan gives a strong performance as a strong-willed but also conflicted woman, and conveyed an array of intense emotions throughout the show.
Susan is a stubborn woman, who isn’t afraid to offer her wisdom no matter how tough or bleak is it, and Anne Marie Holzhauer gave the character a pragmatic countenance.
Matt Rock gave a selfish front to his character Max, but was able to portray his unique care for Suzanna and Susan through his vicious attitude and disregard for others.
Becky Shaw is the show’s instrument of discord, and she is certainly the one Max blames for all the troubles that ensue. Susan even tells Becky that she doesn’t know how much Becky is damaged or a con. Kudos to Elizabeth Abair for her subtle performance that hinted at possible darker undertones in her character.
- Review of ETC’s Much Ado About Nothing (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- A Review of Depot Theatre’s Boeing Boeing (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Outdoor Performace of Taliesin at Beggs Park (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
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