Theater: “Becky Shaw” by Gina Gionfriddo





My theater binge continues. For tonight’s show, I trekked up to Bethesda–not exactly a hardship, since my hotel is close to the Red Line, which has a major stop in the heart of Bethesda. I got up there early enough that I could browse in Barnes & Noble a little and also stop for dinner. I picked a very nice wine bar & cafe called Vino Volo, which I highly recommend. (Turns out, it’s a chain–I’d definitely check it out in other cities.)

Then I strolled over to the Round House Theater. I was early, so I was one of the first to take my seat for the performance of Becky Shaw. The show was very different from “Stupid Fucking Bird,” which I saw last night, at least in style. While that was meta-drama, and somewhat radical in form, this play was pure realism. There were some similarities, though–a domineering mother who takes a young lover; a couple of suicidal characters (one who dresses in black); a struggling writer (although one is angst-ridden and the other is not).

Though titled “Becky Shaw,” the central character of the play is really Suzanna, played by Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan, who is one of the reasons I went to see this play. Alyssa was formerly a member of the repertory company at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, so I’ve seen her perform often and have met her. (She’s married to Thomas Keegan, who is another former member of the ASC company and the son of my friend James Keegan, a long-time stalwart of the company, so I feel as though I know her better than I actually do.)

At the beginning of the play, Suzanna is grieving over the death of her father and the discovery that her mother has taken a young lover. She also obviously has feelings for Max, who had been raised from an early age by her parents and so is like a brother to her. Enter Becky Shaw, a marvelous character who is the catalyst for much of what happens in the play. She’s not exactly Iago, but she’s similarly determined.

Alyssa and the rest of the cast were terrific, and I thoroughly enjoyed the play. I confess that I was not so crazy about the ending, I shared with the people sitting around me some surprise that the show was actually over when the final scene faded to black. I’m not sure how I would have ended the play, however. I’ll give that some thought.

The show runs through June 23, so you’ve only got another week to catch it.

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  1. Clifford,

    I am pleased that your theater weekend went well. My Mother and I saw “Rantoul and Die” by Mark Roberts, presented by The Amoralists theater company. The play is in the Village at the Cherry Lane Theater on Commerce Street. The play runs through July 20th, so if you are in NYC, I say go. (My son Jeremy is the Production Manager for the Amoralists.) I thoroughly enjoyed riding on the train with you last Thursday and do hope to see you again.
    My best to you.

    Howard Pape

    1. Howard,
      Thanks for the note. I also enjoyed the ride with you; the return trip seemed much slower, for some reason. If I make a NYC theater trip, which I hope to do, I’ll check The Amoralists out.

      I’ve already been in touch with the folks running the Playwrights Lab at Live Arts and am now on their listserv. So thanks for the prod.

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