With the 2008 financial crisis still fresh in people’s minds, it would be easy to have sympathy for the main character in Bethany, the theatre department’s first production of 2014.
Bethany, a tragicomedy set amid the Great Recession, tells the story of a single mother named Crystal who simultaneously struggles to regain custody of her 5-year-old daughter Bethany and keep her job as a car salesperson. It was written by Laura Marks, who penned the play after she was laid off in 2009.
“It shows how people are impacted by the financial crisis, which is still with us in many ways,” explained debut director Jeff Zinn, who has previously served as the artistic director of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. “It’s a real fast moving, very energetic story with quite a bit of suspense. The stakes are high and I think it’s really interesting and well-told.”
Zinn praised the work of the cast and crew, which includes students and staff, and noted their productive rehearsals since the first read in early January. Bethany is a one-act, 65-minute play, giving actors and stagehands plenty of time to complete two run-throughs during each three-hour rehearsal.
“It feels like we haven’t had that many rehearsals but we have made significant progress,” said Logan Merrithew, E’15, who plays an eccentric squatter named Gary. “It does raise the stakes a little bit but I haven’t found it to be a negative stress.”
Crystal, who is played by Farah Griffin, AMD’17, meets Gary when she decides to live in a foreclosed home that he has already claimed. Merrithew describes Gary as a “huge conspiracy theorist with a different view of the world,” adding that it was initially difficult to humanize the character.
“When I first read through the script I was like, ‘This Gary guy is a jerk. I don’t really like him very much,’” Merrithew explained. “Early on, trying to bridge the gap between myself and the character was difficult because we are very different, but it has been a fun process at the same time.”
The play opens Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in the Curry Student Center’s Studio Theatre. The production runs until Sunday, Feb. 23, with shows at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, please visit the production’s Facebook page.