“Becky Shaw,” written by Gina Gionfriddo, is being put on at the KNOW Theatre in Downtown Binghamton.
Set in the early 2000s and taking place across three cities — including New York, Providence and Boston — the play follows a newlywed couple as they attempt to set up two of their friends. However, their plan soon turns awry and the play quickly spirals into a chaotic mixture of friendship, trust and what it means to be a part of someone’s life.
Samantha Rose, the director of “Becky Shaw,” explained the reasoning behind bringing the play to the local community.
“At KNOW, we love to push the envelope,” Rose wrote in an email. “Our audience is invited on a journey with us to venture outside of our comfort zones. Each play we tackle explores a piece of the human equation. This is my third season directing a mainstage. My goal is to continue pushing the boundaries so that we can share the human condition with our community.”
The play opens up with a heated discussion between Suzanna Slater (Anna Tagliaferro ‘19) and Max Garrett (Jeff Tagliaferro ‘17) — two childhood best friends. From one conversation, the audience can quickly familiarize themselves with Suzanna’s stubbornness and Max’s assertive attitude.
A. Tagliaferro described the connection she shares with her character.
“We’re both very sentimental people,” A. Tagliaferro said. “We get very flustered when we are the people who have to make decisions and would prefer to have other people make decisions for us and that’s a big theme for Suzanna throughout the whole play. She has to figure out how to stand on her own two feet, be grounded and take care of her own life so she doesn’t always have to rely on other people.”
Throughout the play, the dialogue continues to consist of quick-witted one-liners and perfectly placed awkward pauses. “Becky Shaw” masterfully explores real-life issues and characters’ vulnerabilities through its humorous tone.
J. Tagliaferro illustrated his draw toward the play.
“When I was in school, this play was done in scene study class so I’d known the play for a while,” J. Tagliaferro said. “It’s really funny and it’s a play that kind of toes the line on moral ambiguity and a lot of gray areas. A lot of the characters in this play are really flawed just like every one of us. I’m always drawn to plays that make you, as an actor, question if your character is in the right and leave the audience with a question of ‘who do we root for in this?’”
The crux of the play lies in the date scene when Max is introduced to Becky Shaw (Ameila Pena ‘20) by Suzanna and her husband, Andrew Porter (Josh Schull, a junior majoring in theatre).
Becky, who some might consider overdressed as she shows up in a hot pink ruffle dress reminiscent of prom, comes off as a little uneasy but is still calm and holds her ground. Despite the slight awkwardness of the scene, the four of them have a natural chemistry that is felt throughout the theater.
A. Tagliaferro expressed what she hopes audiences members leave with after watching the show.
“I hope that people will be able to see themselves reflected in the characters and maybe get some kind of release watching these characters go through the trials they are facing in the show,” A. Tagliaferro said. “Maybe they can get some insight into their own lives and I think that all of the characters are deeply relatable and human, so I think that’s what I’m most looking forward to — seeing who the audience relates to the most because everyone is going to relate to a different person.”
Rose described the importance of theatre and the impact it can have on individuals.
“There is something so magical about consuming a piece of art live with a group of people,” Rose wrote. “While we watch the performance we digest it on our own, but we are surrounded by others who are experiencing the same thing. It is a community experience that is made even more special because of the actors. Watching a performance live further connects us in ways a recording does not.”
“Becky Shaw” will run from Feb. 9 through Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are available on the KNOW Theatre’s website.