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Becky's New Car

by Steven Dietz

Mr. Dietz, you've done it again! I am once again thrilled with seeing another side of this playwright! Before I blog about a play I always do a Google search to find an interview or an interesting review to be the click-thru link when you click on the title (above). For Becky's New Car, I found a wonderful story about how a man commissioned this play for his wife as a birthday present. What a lovely idea! Who would think that you could still do that? We all know that this was a very common thing back in Shakespeare's day but I've never heard of anyone doing it today.. Until now.

Becky's New Car is about a woman's flirtation (and eventual romance) with change. The title character addresses the audience in the beginning, saying: 
When a woman says she needs new shoes, what she really wants is a new job. When she says she needs a new house, she wants a new husband. And when she says she wants a new car, she wants a new life.
 And so begins Becky's search for a new life. It is not necessarily something she set out to do. It was something that stumbled upon her in the form of the dashing and sweet Walter. They meet at Becky's work as Walter comes to buy cars for all of his employees. He is grieving the death of his wife and somehow gets it in his head that Becky has also lost a spouse. In fact, her husband, Joe, is very much alive and in love with her. Joe likes to give her a hard time about her job, saying "it's just cars." Their son Chris has this to say about his mother's attention to her work:
This phenomenon is known as "normative social influence" - the desire to gain approval through situational behavior, despite not believing in the value of what one is doing.
He studies psychology.

Without revealing everything about the play, Becky ends up visiting Walter's home where he confesses his feelings for her. He is a bit embarrassed and covers:
It's that hour, you know. That late hour on a summer night when words come out easily.
What is it about a certain hour of the night where all one's defenses seem to disappear? I always feel my most creative at night. When I'm just a little bit tired, I stop judging myself and the creative energies start to flow.

I loved reading this play. I think the characters are wonderfully human and likeable, even when they do bad things. I also enjoyed the brief correspondence that I shared with Charles, the man who commissioned this play for his wife. He told me that their motto is "you don't have to be a Vanderbilt or d'Medici to commission a new work of art." :)

Towards the end of the play there is a wonderful scene between Joe and Walter ("what? the two men meet!" you say? oh that's right. it's lots of fun). Joe has my favorite line in the play:
I learned something a long time ago, Walter: No one - and I mean no one on earth - wants to hear how busy you are, how tired you are, or what happened to you at the airport.
We all have that airport story. Might make an interesting book. Short stories of people's airport nightmares -- something to read the next time you have a five-hour layover in Tennessee. 

Tomorrow's Play: Split by Michael Weller (apparently the theme of the week is infidelity!)

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