Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

Becky Shaw
A Public Fit Theatre Company
Review by Mary LaFrance


Mike Rasmussen, Kelli Andino, and Rozanne Sher
Photo by Shawn Donley
Is there such thing as a healthy romantic relationship? Or is every couple drawn together by mutual dysfunction? If that is the case, can the relationship survive recovery? Playwright Gina Gionfriddo poses these questions and more with hilarious results in her dark comedy Becky Shaw, which is currently receiving a first-rate production by one of Las Vegas's premier professional theatre troupes, A Public Fit Theatre Company.

As the play opens, thirty-something Suzanna is depressed; her father has died, opening the door to possible skeletons in the family closet and exacerbating her difficult relationship with her mother Susan. (The similarity of names matches their similarity in temperament.) Her close friend and quasi-brother Max leaps to her rescue both emotionally and financially. Fast forward several months: mother and daughter both have new relationships, and at Suzanna's urging Max agrees to a blind date that has unexpected consequences, revealing moral ambiguities and raising doubts about whether our familiar concept of a healthy relationship is simply a romantic fiction. The play also raises questions about how truthful we are to ourselves and how truthful we should be to others. Despite the serious events that propel its plot, Becky Shaw bristles with wit as Gionfriddo slices and dices our traditional notions about healthy versus dysfunctional relationships as well as time-honored social conventions, all the while poking wicked fun at her characters' foibles.

A smart script deserves a smart production, and A Public Fit delivers. The stellar cast (boasting impressive training and credits) shines under Ann-Marie Pereth's canny and sharp-edged direction. With no weak links, it is impossible to single out any individual in this brilliant ensemble. As Suzanna and Susan, respectively, Rozanne Sher and her real-life mother Charlene Sher, both splendid actresses, have a natural chemistry together, but they have an equally palpable chemistry with Russell Jeff Feher as their almost-family-member Max. Feher himself has terrific stage presence; tasked with the play's most layered and frightfully unselfaware character, he radiates Max's oh-so-compelling moral complexity with searing intensity. Kelli Andino is a delight as Becky Shaw, the catalyst for the evening's revelations. Mike Rasmussen is just as convincing as Andrew, Suzanna's newest white knight, who appears to be untainted by the rampant dysfunction that plagues those around him. Rest assured, however, that no one is a simple soul in Gionfriddo's world.

This fine production is enhanced by Mariya Radeva-Nedyalkova's costume designs, which encapsulate each character's distinctive traits without over-simplifying, and by Eric A. Koger's efficient scenic design, which enables the action to move quickly from one setting to another with minimal interruption.

If you want to see some of the best acting and directing in the Valley this season, get thee to the Art Square Theatre before April 10.

Becky Shaw runs through April 10, 2016 (Thursday-Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 2 pm, no performance on April 1, additional 2 pm matinee on Saturday, April 2) at the Art Square Theatre, 1025 S. First St., #110, Las Vegas, NV 89101. For tickets ($25 general admission, $20 seniors and students) or further information, visit www.apublicfit.org.

Cast

Suzanna Slater: Rozanne Sher
Max Garrett: Russell Jeff Feher
Susan Slater: Charlene Sher
Andrew Porter: Mike Rasmussen
Becky Shaw: Kelli Andino

Additional Creative

Sound design by Steven Zeller; lighting design by Josh Wroblewski.


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