Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hard Times Fuel Desperate Measures in 'Bethany'


often fuels reckless behavior.

In Laura Marks’ “Bethany” a woman’s financial woes sap her judgment. The Women’s Project world premiere production is at New York City Center Stage II through 17 Feb. (See video above of scenes from the play.)

Crystal (America Ferrera) encounters Gary (Tobias Segal) when she breaks into the foreclosed house in which he is already squatting. On the surface Crystal appears to be a cheerful survivor, but her suggestion to Gary that they be housemates hints at the depth of her distress.

There’s a lot of hard sell in “Bethany.” The very sleazy Charlie (Ken Marks) is selling prosperity and opportunity. Crystal sells luxury cars. Given the sliding economy that is the backdrop to “Bethany,” all this is based on delusion. Each salespitch is a fraud that hides a secret.

Crystal’s sales manager, Shannon (Emily Ackerman), holds a reserve of skepticism. However, only Gary, with his clear-eyed and canny paranoia, is genuine. Although he is not a charlatan like Charlie or a striver like Crystal, he shares the desperation of the others.

Clever observation by the playwright and nuanced acting by the cast make “Bethany” a masterpiece of suspense. In an outstanding ensemble, TS stands out as a man who is “off the grid” and off balance. AF gives a brilliant and unsentimental performance.

Ably rounding out the “Bethany” cast are Kristin Griffith as Patricia and Myra Lucretia Taylor as Toni.

Both Charlie (Ken Marks) and Crystal (America Ferrera) are hiding something in “Bethany." Photo by Carol Rosegg.

LM has spun a universal tale out of current hard times with memorable small moments and a unique attention to detail. “Bethany” is a shockingly funny drama.

Visit to learn more about “Bethany.”

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