Archikulture Digest

Betty’s Summer Vacation

Betty’s Summer Vacation

By Christophe Durang

Directed by Wade Hair

Starring Lori Babson Jessup, Traci McGough, and Bridgette Lindsey Morris

Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL</strong>

Director Wade Hair breaks out of his comfort zone and smashes up the third wall, the fourth wall and the ceiling and the floor with this fireball of a farce. Betty (Jessup) rents a beach cottage with some friends and strangers: Trudy (Morris) is young and abused and on a permanent talking jag, creepy Keith (BeeJay Aubertin Clinton) curates heads in hat boxes, and Buck (Thomas Rivera) has a permanent hard-on and wants the world to know about it. Their landlady is sleazy Mrs. Siezmagraff (McGough), her husband died and she needs a place to crash. Although recently widowed, she invites the enthusiastic flasher Mr. Vanislaw over for an evening of sex, booze, and beheadings. And it’s a nice cottage: big deck, small ocean view, and voices in the ceiling. They drive the story, commenting and demanding and generally getting their way, and pretty soon its sex, sex , sex and more blood. The vacation is funny, brutal, and packed with PG rated sex and Sunday School unfriendly language everywhere.

The story itself is a little hard to summarize, but it’s a tabloid brought to life and plastered across checkout stands and afternoon TV shows of America. Ms. Jessup is long suffering and somewhat sane and one of the best scream queens I’ve meet. Mrs. Morris is cute, put upon, and not ready to have consensual sex as the other kind has worn her down. Ms. McGough was careless yet kind; she’s the archetypical rationalizer that purposefully ignores the bad things around her in exchange for peace and quiet. And Mr. Rivera is everything Mr. Aubertin Clintons isn’t – out going, blunt and ready to get laid by anything that can’t out run him. Finally there’s Mr. Brandenburg and his flashers rain coat. He enjoyed his role WAY too much.

The Greek chorus mirrors the demanding Modern American Public; they are insatiable when it comes to sleaze and smarm and schmaltz. While we publicly dismiss stories like Lorain Bobbitt and John Wayne Gay as trash, they sell endless magazines and ad minutes, and they are the shameful undercurrent of our culture. Durang simply takes this reality, adds better pacing and more laughs, and flashes it back into our eyes like our own headlights as we tail gate a monster truck. This is a risky, edgy, profane and wonderful piece of theater, and it’s too short run will keep its audiences down to four or five full houses. Write your congressman and get him to extend this run. Heck, he might as well star in it. You know he’s got the back story.

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