Becky's New Car, at The REP | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Becky's New Car, at The REP

A potent comedy is performed with charm and confidence

Michael Fuller and Jodi Gage in Becky's New Car, at The REP.
Michael Fuller and Jodi Gage in Becky's New Car, at The REP.

Stable, boring marriages and mid-life crises have probably sold more cars than every car salesman in history.

The REP's production of Becky's New Car isn't subtle about this message. Shoes, flower vases, cups, books and a toilet seat are only a few of the banal, everyday commodities that dangle from the ceiling, mocking all the characters. In this 2008 work by Steven Dietz (Fiction, Shooting Star), Becky is a relatively happy wife and mother, employed by a local car dealership. She's in an ordinary mid-life rut until a filthy-rich widower wanders into the dealership and mistakes her for free game. Does she take a spin in this new, flashy ride or drive back home to her perfectly dull, blessed life?

Despite being structured around a quaint, condescending metaphor, Becky's New Car is a potent comedy, directed by Kim Martin and performed with charm and confidence by The REP. The best parts of Becky come when it swan-dives straight into screwball territory, and The REP has found two spectacular screwball actors in Michael Fuller and Tony Bingham. Fuller plays Steve, one of Becky's superiors at the dealership. He navigates a series of breathless monologues with panache and charisma without falling into total caricature. Bingham, on the other hand, plays Becky's average-Joe husband with a deft deadpan.

Jodi Gage, as Becky, is given the impossible task of playing a much older woman. This renders her tryst with Walter (played admirably by Randy Kovitz) less convincing, but her youthful amiability proves to be a comic asset and she carries the production well.

The show lends itself well to the arena-theater configuration, allowing the characters to directly address and involve the audience. Their cynicism is all too familiar, but their humor is uncommon. This is an enjoyable night of theater with a laugh for every minute.

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
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Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith