By Larry Taylor/Garden Grove Journal
Fresh from a sold-out run on Broadway, Gina Gionfriddo’s wicked comedy “Becky Shaw,” is now playing at South Coast Repertory.
This is the West Coast premiere of a work the New York Times called “a corker of a new play, a tangled tale of love, sex and ethics [that] is as engrossing as it is ferociously funny.” The plot involves a newly married couple who find their relationship on the rocks after they set up their friends on a “date from hell.”
“Becky Shaw” can be called a play of bad manners as it untangles a web of love, sex and ethics among four New Yorkers in their mid 30s. Their explosive goings-on are both hilarious and provocative – raising social issues that invite post-curtain conversation.
Angela Goethals plays Becky, a needy, down-on-her-luck college dropout whose one date with mean-spirited Max (Brian Avers) sets off shock waves in the lives of her colleague Andrew (Graham Michael Hamilton) and his bride, Suzanna (Tessa Auberjonois). Further adding to the complications is Angela’s busy-body, “say-anything” mother, Susan (Barbara Tarbuck). It turns out that she may be dating a con artist.
As the plot progresses, situations and people turn out to not necessarily be as perceived. Characters reveal new aspects of themselves and relationships change. Director Pam MacKinnon, says “It’s a play you can talk about.”
This is the fourth time MacKinnon has directed one of Gionfriddo’s plays. She saw the New York production and was struck by the way it affected the people around her: “It was wonderful to be in a room where you could really feel the audience keep switching their allegiances,” she says.
For her writing, Gionfriddo has received many awards including the Obie Award for off-Broadway theater and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She has written for both the stage and for television.
SCR’s production creative team includes Daniel Ostling. set design, Sarah Ryung Clement, costume design, Lap Chi Chu lighting design and Michael K. Hooker’s original music.
“Becky Shaw” plays through Nov. 21 on Segerstrom Stage at South Coast Repertory.