“Becky Shaw” Behind the Curtain

    More stories from Rut Ortiz

    McNair Scholars Program
    October 31, 2017

    Mary Kroeck

    (L to R) Ann Stoner (Suzannah), Elise Adams (Becky Shaw) and Bryan Lubash (Andrew) in rehearsal for “Becky Shaw.”

    The basic premise for the newest play to hit Stage Center Theater is a blind date gone horribly, horribly wrong.

    A contributing factor to the bad decisions made by the characters is alcohol. Albeit, it’s fake wine depicted by green tea and grape juice, but the symbolism is there.

    By the time this story goes to print, “Becky Shaw” will have been on stage for three days.

    “It’s about dating, it’s about relationships, it’s about family,” said play director and professor of Communications, Media and Theater John Bliss.

    Branded as a “comedy of bad manners”, an interesting angle this play takes is that American playwright Gina Gionfriddo does not immediately cast blame on a single character but rather allows blame to be assigned by the audience on whichever character they choose.

    The playwright touched on her characters within the “Author’s Note” of the book by the same name, “I don’t think any character in this play is bad or wrong or crazy or worthless or unlovable. I don’t think any of them are damaged beyond repair. I don’t think any one character is more to blame than the others for the emotional wreckage that piles up in the second act.”

    So who is Becky Shaw?

    “That is sort of the central question of the play, because there are four other characters and they each have a different perception on who Becky is and what’s she’s all about,” Bliss said. “Becky is a young woman who has sort of lost her way a little bit in life. She is the woman on the blind date and…things don’t always go her way.

    “The name ‘Becky Shaw’ is reminiscent of ‘Becky Sharp,’ who is the anti-heroine of Vanity Fair by Thackeray. This is sort of the 21st century version of social satire.”

    After the play’s first debut in 2008, the New York Times acclaimed the production to be “an absorbing comedy-drama about a blind date that threatens to become a marriage-devouring black hole…”

    “It’s fun,” said Pat Ruch who works in the NEIU English department and plays Suzanna’s mother. “In theater you don’t always do the sweet nice type…that’s boring. So let’s just say we don’t have boring characters.”

    CMT major Jamar Williams who also works as the lead stage manager for the play reflected on work environment shared by the entire cast and director.

    “Sometimes rehearsals are rough but I think it’s a fun atmosphere,” Williams said. “There’s a great relationship between the director, the stage manager and the actors.”

    Williams said he expects the audiences’ reaction to be a lot of laughter.

    There are four more showings of “Becky Shaw” on Oct. 8, 9 and 10. Viewers looking for more information on tickets and show times can visit www.neiu.edu.

    “I think students, if they open themselves up to it would really like plays in general because it’s a different experience than watching television or going to movies or anything like that,” Bliss said. “For our students in particular this cast is four NEIU students and one staff member. This play, I think students who come to see it are going to see their lives really reflected back to them.”

    It’s too bad this play wasn’t written a few years later. Tinder could have contributed a lot of material to it.