Monday, May 21 , 2018, 6:44 am | Mostly Cloudy 54º


Review: SBCC Theatre’s ‘Becky’s New Car’ Well Worth the Ride

Steven Dietz was commissioned to write Becky’s New Car as a gift from a Seattle man to his wife on her 60th birthday. The love at the heart of his gesture seems to permeate this warm and funny theatrical offering. And under the direction of Katie Laris at the intimate Jurkowitz Theatre on the SBCC campus, the current production by the SBCC Theatre Group is a delight. The action moves among several different locations with just a shift of the lighting, keeping everything moving along smoothly.

Leslie Gangl Howe, who plays Becky, is a seasoned local actress with talent to spare. As a woman managing all of the usual complications of family life, work and an impending midlife crisis, she draws the audience into her confidence from the opening moments of the play. She scurries around tidying up with a dust-buster, embarrassed at the audience catching her with a messy living room, and attempting to get them caught up on all the issues in her life.

Yes, she addresses the audience, as individuals. She even asks for their help with some of her housework. Sitting in the front row is a great way to get drawn into the action. Howe is a wonderful storyteller, and her facial expressions and comic delivery are priceless.

While Becky works in a car dealership, and does indeed receive a new car eventually, the story is really about the pain of seeking something beyond one’s lot in life, the courage necessary to step away from the familiar and reflections on redemption.

As Becky’s roofer husband, Joe, Tom Hinshaw is warm and down-to-earth. Another veteran actor, he has the ability to command the space even when his character doesn’t appear to be doing anything. Added depth comes when the discovery is made that Joe is easygoing but not a doormat.

Martin Bell is Walter, the mystery man who shakes up Becky’s comfortably frazzled life. He is dry and droll, and just charming enough to make her actions believable.

Josh Jenkins and Bre Piantanida are poised and surprisingly mature as the twenty-somethings: Joe and Becky’s son and Walter’s daughter, respectively.

Jon Koons and Melissa Morgan Squire play solid supporting roles. Steve is a car salesman and friend of the family, while Ginger is a society gal down on her luck. Squire, by the way, does a fantastic low-key drunken slur, befitting a respectable pillar of the community.

As the action careens through the second act, things start to feel out of control, and the audience cannot be blamed for squirming in their seats. But in the end, after all has been untangled, Becky finds her way home.

There is a delicious realness to the characters’ actions — no one is perfect, sometimes there is regret — but there is also real love and empathy waiting on the other side of the front door. Isn’t that the best we can all hope for?

Becky’s New Car runs through May 11. Click here for tickets and information.

— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >