BETTY’S SUMMER VACATION (IRC): A terribly funny nightmare of a beach trip

Trudy (Amanda Schoonover) Mrs. Seizmagraff (Tina Brock) and Betty (Kirsten Quinn) Photo by Johanna Austin

Trudy (Amanda Schoonover) Mrs. Seizmagraff (Tina Brock) and Betty (Kirsten Quinn) in BETTY’S SUMMER VACATION. Photo by Johanna Austin

For their June show, the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium decided to take on a grotesque play by Christopher Durang which Tina Brock directed. Brock herself has the prime comedic role of Mrs. Seizmagraff, the sex-crazed and wacky owner of the beach bungalow.

Mrs. Seizmagraff has rented out most of the rooms in her bungalow and we meet the occupants as they arrive. Betty (Kirsten Quinn) is the good girl, the one who ends up shopping and doing the dishes for everyone else. She arrives with Trudy (Amanda Schoonover), a friend who Betty had not realized is incapable of turning off the chatter.

Then Craig the serial killer arrives with a hatbox and shovel. The mood turns a bit dark, but the comedy is in the failure of anyone to recognize the danger. Voices begin to chime in from the ceiling with laughter and the occasional comment. What sort of bungalow is this?

Bucky (Chris Fluck) the funloving woman chaser brings his beer and announces his desire to have sex every second. And then comes Ms. Seizmagraff with all the flounce and drama Tina Brock can give her. Turns out her husband died and she lost the house so she will be staying at the beach, too.

After Betty shops for dinner and Ms. Seizmagraff takes in a homeless flasher from the beach, beautifully played by William Rahill, the fun begins. Serial killing, caterwauling from the ceiling, and general confusion ensues.

The set, designed by Dirk Durossette and built by Stage Rats, LLC, has five doors, each leading to a bedroom, a window shaped like a ship’s porthole, and a front door. The porthole and front door are translucent, and the lighting design by Joshua L. Schulman creates night and day through these portals.

The script is fairly raw and rape and decapitation are referred to but not seen. You do see, in Mrs. Seizmagraff’s most capable hands, a penis recently separated from its owner, but Mrs. S. puts it in the freezer right away, hoping it can be reattached.

This send-up of the television culture of a period which could be the 1970s (no cell phones, phones with dials, and relaxed sexual mores) are expressed strongly in language and action. The play is terribly funny, the acting quite good, but sex, violence, voyeurism, and self-gratification tell quite a judgmental tale about our culture—or lack thereof.

 [Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium at Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio 3, 825 Walnut Street] June 12-30, 2019; bettysummervacation.bpt.me

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