Windy City Playhouse’s ‘Becky Shaw’ the date you’ll never forget

Ah, families and romance and crumbling class hierarchies:

You know how I’m always touting family-friendly entertainment and stuff that the kids will simply adore?

Becky Shaw, Windy City Playhouse’s razor-sharp new production, ain’t that show.

That said, this is the show where you should bring your girlfriends, established relationships and, at least in my case, a husband and a mother.

The comedic drama opens with a wealthy, dysfunctional family on the verge of relative poverty with more than their share of codependent situations. And, shortly thereafter, we’re introduced to a couple as they embark on a really, really bad blind date.

After that, the fun stuff happens.

Becky Shaw Production 1

Photo credit: Michael Brosilow

Gina Gionfriddo’s lightning-fast script pulls no punches and takes no prisoners as it eviscerates class issues and toxic relationships, all the while holding onto the glimmer of hope that there still remains a chance for actual love; the real kind, the “asks nothing in return” kind and— if we’re not asking too much— the kind that will make us whole again. (Except for the slightly broken parts of us that we like and would sort of prefer to keep.)

Directed by Scott Weinstein and with a tennis match of a scenic design by Jeffrey D. Kmiec (which uses every inch of performance spaces and makes exceptional use of the audience’s swiveling leather club chairs), viewers lurch between adoration for these ballsy characters and an abhorrence for their personal choices— sometimes in the very same scene.

Artistic Director Amy Rubenstein’s portrayal of Suzanna paints the picture of a spoiled, needy, generous, and ultimately adrift girl-child, while Michael Pogue’s Andrew is the affirming fixer; i.e. the Perfect Guy. (Until he’s not.) Susan, Suzanna’s mother, is (alliteratively) played by Suzanne Petri with the grace of a moneyed matriarch who’ll go down with the musicians on the ship or keep up the facade until the problem goes away— whichever comes first. Michael Doonan, as Suzanna’s kinda/sorta brother Max is in charge of this crumbling family. Or maybe he’s responsible for their dysfunction? Unless he’s just a victim of circumstance, too. But the real driving force in this show is Carley Cornelius’ Becky Shaw, a character who teeters between victimhood and puppeteer, and whose inability to move on from past events pave the way for her future choices— with incredibly explosive results.

This darkly hilarious production is highly recommended— as is the tailored cocktail list for each show. (The fantastic “pocket of mystery,” their version of a fizzy Aviation, sets the scene nicely for a full family meltdown in the way that only gin can.)

But maybe hold on off on making this a “first date” kind of endeavor.

Or don’t. See what happens.


Now extended through December 10th, 2017

at Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago



Speak Your Mind