Thursday, February 05, 2009

Becky Shaw

Photo: Joan Marcus

All hail Annie Parisse. As the title character in Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw, who doesn’t appear until well into the first act, she manages to accomplish something that the others couldn’t do: make it seem as though something of note is going on. By the time she appears, there’s been much ado about a lot: a lost fortune, a semi-incestuous one-night stand, a Vegas marriage, and dozens of one liners, many quite funny. But somehow the much ado doesn’t add up to anything—other than whining and squabbling—until Parisse appears as the female half of an ill-advised blind date. She’s one of those performers who seem to bring their own spotlight with them, and her every word and movement as the surprising (inconsistent?) Becky fascinate and intrigue. However, even she cannot make Becky Shaw really work. While the play has much to say about love and deceit and how people interact, its point of view seems random since Gionfriddo consistently sacrifices clarity and character to get a laugh. The first act in particular wanders hither and yon without getting anywhere; the second act is entertaining enough that its lack of meaning is less apparent. But, on leaving, I had the same question I had with Prayer for My Enemy and The American Plan: What was this play really about?

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