Daily Egyptian

“Becky’s New Car” represents life, midlife crises and starting over

By Jacob Pierce, @JacobPierce1_DE

While midlife crises are often illustrated by men buying motorcycles or other cliche male issues, a new play at the Varsity Center for Arts shows the other side of the equation. 

The Varsity Center for Arts and The Stage Company, a nonprofit theater organization created in 1982, are co-hosting “Becky’s New Car,” a play written by Steven Dietz. The show, directed by Vincent Rhomberg and Jacquie Betz, plays the next two weekends.

“Becky’s New Car,” the company’s fourth play of the year, is a comedy about a middle-aged wife and mother in her 28th year of marriage.  A secretary at a car dealership, Becky finds herself juggling a double life when a she is alone and a millionaire comes looking for a vehicle.


Becky starts with a little white lie and the situation keeps getting worse, Betz said. At one point, she even fakes her own death. Becky has to decide whether she wants to return to her old life.  

Rhomberg — the director of marketing in the theater department at SIU — said the play comically looks at a modern midlife crisis. Comedy does not play a huge role in contemporary writing. A depressing voice is commonplace for the creative mind nowadays, he said.

“We usually don’t look at running away from life as a funny thing.” “Rhomberg said. “What is so interesting about the play is how Steven Dietz approaches it as a funny situation.”

Midlife crises are usually portrayed as a male concept, Betz said. In fiction, it tends to be an event only men go through. No one looks at how reaching middle age affects women, she said.

Rhomberg said some women of a certain age feel invisible and many want to find a way to become visible again, he said.

“The love and excitement in Becky’s life has gone away,” Rhomberg said. “Her journey is to find that passion again.”

Becky Shaffer, a middle school teacher from Murphysboro, plays the title role of Becky. The character is satisfied, but stagnant. She sees a life out of her reach, Shaffer said.

“Becky tries a different life and learns it was not a good choice,” she said.

The plot revolves around being happy with what one has or to seek out for something “better.” Becky sees a greener pasture she could take, Shaffer said.

Eric Billingsley, an insurance agent for Blue Cross Shield from Goreville, plays Walter, the millionaire who inadvertently causes Becky’s plight in the play.

The drama is about conventions, Billingsley said. Not only does Becky try and break out of traditions, but the play itself escapes theater normalcy.

Betz said “Becky’s New Car” constantly breaks the fourth wall. There are points where Becky will stop the play and speak directly to the audience. She will implore the playgoers to grab items or ask the audience a question. 

“Becky’s New Car” runs 7:30 p.m. on Friday performances and 2 p.m on Saturday performances. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. 

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311. 



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