Get our newsletters

Theater review: Fine Langhorne Players cast tackles play about fractured family

Langhorne Players opened its 2019 summer season with the unusual drama, “Becky Shaw,” a play written by Gina Gionfriddo.

Leading the cast of five is Cat Miller, one of Bucks County’s finest actors. She plays Suzanna Slater, a strong but vulnerable woman who is studying for a graduate degree in the field of mental health.

As Suzanna, Cat is a perpetual motion machine; she constantly is moving physically while her perpetual emotions drive the play from start to finish, even as her “almost brother” pushes all the right buttons for her reactions.

Suzanna and her mother, Susan, portrayed believably by Susan Fowler, another well-known Bucks County actress, are at odds every step of the way. Unable to get along; they disagree on everything. They are nasty and unkind to one another and denigrate one another to others.

Susanna loves Max Garrett, an astute, but somewhat coarse man whose unfiltered comments often are hurtful. Raised as her brother when his father died, there’s something holding them apart most of the time even as a kinetic energy draws them together. Matt Duchnowski plays Max, a successful money manager, showing only occasional kindness and understanding to others. When he speaks, what comes from his mouth is unfiltered.

While on a skiing trip, Suzanna meets Andrew, a sweet, kind writer. He is so different from the others in her family, she marries him quickly.

She knows he is her opposite and realizes she needs him to keep herself on an even keel. Chris Capitolo, as Andrew, adds some sanity to the play.

Then along comes Becky Shaw, played by Charlotte Kirkby. Her life is fraught with uncertainties and self-doubt. She is skilled in manipulating others, especially in expecting others to feel sorry for her. She knows how to “play” people to achieve her goals.

When Andrew shows concern that Becky Shaw needs help, Suzanna becomes consumed with jealousy.

Four of these five people are self-centered, selfish and unlikeable. I could find no redemption for them. However, learning the explanation of how and why the family is fractured should fascinate theater-goers who attend plays not just to be entertained, but to think.

These five actors do a fine job inviting us to think about their situations and to care about them. That result is largely attributable to the direction of Maryalice Rubins-Topoleski whose impressive bio in the program includes acting and directing not just at Langhorne Players and ActorsNET, but also at other theaters in Bucks County and New Jersey.

“Becky Shaw continues May 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11 at the Spring Garden Mill, which sits on the bank of the Neshaminy Creek between Newtown and Richboro. Evening performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

For tickets, visit the Langhorne Players website or call the box office at 215-860-0818. Tickets are $18.