Let's Review: Reality hits hard in Globe’s ‘Bethany’

If you go

What:

“Bethany”

When:

Matinees, evenings to Feb. 23

Where:

Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park

Tickets

: From $29

■ Box Office: (619) 23-GLOBE

Website:

www.TheOldGlobe.org

By Diana Saenger

Although the West Coast premiere of “Bethany” at The Old Globe may entice audiences with its sweet, female title (Bethany refers to a young girl who never appears in Laura Marks’ dark thriller), it may leave some patrons aghast.

In the drama directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, Crystal (Jennifer Ferrin) suddenly finds herself among the many Americans who learn their hard work is of no worth when they lose their jobs or homes during the recent recession. In one neighborhood, foreclosure after foreclosure has left many of the houses empty.

Crystal uses a credit card to jimmy the lock open on a door belonging to one of those houses and lets herself in. The furnishings are sparse, but she checks the refrigerator and a cabinet, and finds some food items.

Suddenly, a man comes running down the stairs with a board in his hand and begins screaming at Crystal and trying to hit her with the board. She eventually calms the man, who she learns is Gary (Carlo Alban). He confesses he’s homeless and not leaving this residence, so she talks him into letting her stay, as well.

Crystal soon discovers that Gary is mentally unstable. He constantly rants about the government controlling the people and taking away their freedoms. Crystal realizes she’ll never get Gary to leave, so she walks on tiptoes to keep things manageable.

We learn that Crystal has lost custody of her 5-year-old daughter and needs a home to get her child back.

To fool the social worker Toni (Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson) and pull this off, Crystal needs money that she hopes will come through soon. Crystal is a car salesperson and has a rich man on the hook.

Charlie (James Shanklin) likes the car he sees, but has bigger eyes for Crystal. One evening, he schemes his way to her house and gives her an ultimatum: He’ll buy the car if she sleeps with him. Crystal is in for a few surprises concerning her job and the car sale …

Will Crystal make the sale? Will she get her daughter back? And can she handle it when Gary goes so far off his rocker that her life is in danger?

Not to be a spoiler, but there were some big open mouths at the end of the last act. I wasn’t the only one to be utterly taken aback, wondering why there were missing elements in the play that could have smoothed out the results. This is a drama for mature audiences only.

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