GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 25, 2013

A catalyst for family chemistry

CAT opens season with Pulitzer finalist 'Becky Shaw'

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — “Becky Shaw,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist, will be the show to open the Cape Ann Theatre Collaborative’s fourth season.

The production’s run starts tomorrow night, with shows running the next two weekends, at Gorton Theatre.

The work was written by Gina Gionfriddo, who is known for her television scriptwriting, with a long list of “Law and Order” credits.

“This show is interesting because it shows our human frailties. We all have frailties and they come out in very quirky ways,” said director Pat Maloney-Brown. “You think you know someone but sometimes these frailties reveal themselves, and these characters have their share of life’s little anomalies.”

She said dysfunction and redemption coexist throughout this play.

“Gina Gionfriddo’s comedy of bad manners, a tangled tale of love, sex and ethics among a quartet of men and women in their 30s, is as engrossing as it is ferociously funny, like a big box of fireworks fizzing and crackling across the stage from its first moments to its last,” wrote Charles Sherwood in the New York Times when “Becky Shaw” opened in 2009 at the Second Stage Theater on 43rd Street.

Maloney-Brown described the character Becky Shaw,played by Lauren Ashly Suchecki, as the “blind date from hell.”

“She is the catalyst for this family’s emotional chemistry,” she said.

Peter Dubois of the Huntington Theatre in Boston said this about the play: “ [Gionfriddo] actually puts the tapes that run silently through our minds into the mouths of her characters. She’s got a very sharp, smart point of view on the world and a wicked sense of humor.”

When newlyweds Suzanna Slater, played by Elinor Teele, and Andrew Proctor, played by Dave Rich, set up Becky Shaw with Suzanna’s “pseudo-adopted” brother, Max Garrett, played by Marc St. Pierre, the change begins for everyone. The matriarch is Susan Slater, played by Sheryl Reed, whose unconventional view of life guides the family.

The first scene takes place eight months before Becky Shaw appears, who follows in the second scene when there is a shift a family chemistry within one week’s time.

“It’s a rapid fire changing of the guard emotionally,” said Maloney-Brown. “Everybody in the audience is going to see bits and pieces of some of their own frailties and how people interact.”

Suchecki has performed for CAT Collaborative audiences since its first season in the role of Tillie in “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.” CAT welcomes veteran actors Elinor Teele and Dave Rich in their debut performances. Mary Spittle is the set designer.

Maloney-Brown said Cape Ann Theatre Collaborative produces equity-calibre acting within a community theater setting.

“Our mission is simple,” she said. “It’s quality theater at an affordable price and that’s our game.”

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

If you go Who and what: Cape Ann Theatre Collaborative presents "Becky Shaw," a Pulitzer Prize finalist. When: April 26, 27, 28, May 2 (a benefit for Essex County Greenbelt), and May 3, 4 and 5. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m. Where: Gorton Theatre (home of Gloucester Stage Company) at 267 East Main St. in Gloucester. How much: $15; $12, seniors and students. To order tickets, visit www.catcollaborative.org or reserve at the door by emailing catcollab@gmail.com. Cash or check only at the door.