Emotions tugged, tested in new Globe comedy about loss, Be a Good Little Widow
By Diana Saenger
Bekah Brunstetter’s “Be a Good Little Widow” at The Old Globe is an interesting juxtaposition of happy and sad, reality and romanticism. The dialogue sometimes comes off as stilted, and I often felt that Melody’s character seemed very immature. However, the cast as a whole is terrific, and Hal Brooks’ direction centers the story well between the bookends of humor and pain.
Newlyweds Craig (Ben Graney) and Melody (Zoë Winters) are settling into their new home as awkwardly as they are adjusting to a new life together. True love is apparent in small ways, but evidence that this couple knew each other for very long (or very well) is lacking. They don’t seem to be on the same page about the décor of the house or what Melody should do with herself when Craig must frequently fly away on business.
Melody misses her parents whom she left on the other side of the country, and Craig’s mother, Hope, is not even close to a replacement. From the moment Christine Estabrook in the role of Hope, makes her first visit to the newlywed’s home, her chilliness plants a block of ice square in the middle of herself and her new daughter-in law. With just one look, Melody realizes she doesn’t measure up to what Hope wanted for her son. When Craig is away on business, Hope pays a call on Melody and offers some sarcastic advice about how to be a good wife. It’s like putting peanut butter on a squeaky door; it’s a waste of time and the squeak is still there.
Within days of their marriage, as Melody practices yoga along with a TV program, she hears of a deadly plane crash and realizes Craig was on that plane. Already a very quirky character, Melody is now a lonely, loose cannon.
During this middle part of the play, Brunstetter resorts to some crude language and boorish actions by Melody and Craig’s employee, Brad (Kelsey Kurz), to cement the emotions of the sudden change in their lives. Hope, too, is heart-broken, but her attitude toward Melody is even more piercing. Melody is not allowed to make any decisions about the funeral because Hope has been through this before when her own husband died. She’s unforgivingly harsh to Melody.
As days go by and the pain of loss takes a new form, Hope and Melody begin to see each other in a new light. The discomfort and offense I saw on the faces of some in the audience during those tense earlier scenes was replaced by both males and females wiping tears from their eyes — a testament to Brunstetter’s theme that grief is definitely sprinkled with humor.
— “Be a Good Little Widow” plays matinees, evenings to June 9 at Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park. Tickets: From $29. (619) 234-5623. TheOldGlobe.org
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