Margaret Melozzi tears up the stage in 2nd Story Theatre’s hilarious production of Steven Dietz’s “Becky’s New Car.” Get to the theatre a few minutes early and read Eileen Warburton’s essay on how the 105-minute, two-act play was commissioned and developed into one sure-fire crowd pleaser.
Melozzi plays Becky, a middle-aged middle class wife/mother, suffering from a mid-life crisis. She talks to the audience, interacts with them and even brings a couple on stage to help her get ready for a party.
While I’m not a fan of those interactive dinner theatre productions, author Steven Dietz and Director Mark Peckham choose and use the method sparingly, and Melozzi has a ball with it.
Trevor Elliott’s set is simple and utilitarian, with Becky moving smoothly from her living room to her car dealership office, to her car, and to a more affluent house. She leads a fairly simple life with Joe, her blue-collar roofer husband (Kerry Callery) and 26-year-old son Chris (Jeff DeSisto), who still hasn’t found himself.
Working late at the office, she is interrupted by Walter (Vince Petronio), a suave wealthy widower who wishes to purchase nine new cars for his employees.
Walter has the mistaken impression that Becky is a widow and is immediately attracted to her. Becky never gets around to correcting the situation.
The play becomes a comedy of errors in the fast-paced second act, reminding me at times of a Moliere farce, with characters being mistaken and paths that would never cross crossing at the most importune times, all leading to a hilarious and satisfying conclusion.
For a play like this to work, casting is of the utmost importance. Melozzi, who we haven’t seen on stage for a while, is perfectly cast as Becky. Moving from interacting with her family, co-worker and Walter to interacting directly with the audience, she is a hoot.
Talking about perfect casting, Callery plays the simple, lovable, “Aw, shucks” roofer opposite Petronio’s sophisticated, sly but likable sly, handsome Walter, creating believable opposites who find that they have things in common beyond Becky.
There’s a subplot involving Becky’s frenetic co-worker (F. William Oakes) and Walter’s neighbor (Rae Mancini) that’s lots of fun. Another subplot involves Becky’s son and Walter’s daughter (Erin Elliott). It’s a bit far out but, hey, so is this outrageously funny play.
“Becky’s New Car is upstage at 2nd Story, 28 Market St. in Warren, through June 1. If that isn’t enough comedy for you, the equally hilarious “Sylvia” has been extended in the downstairs theatre through June 2, having sold out through May 23. Call 247-4200 for reservations. Tickets are $25.