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SpeakEasy’s new play is beautifully ‘Reckless’

Theatre Review | 3 out of 4 Stars

Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 01:11

Reckless

Courtesy Mark L. Saperstein

A woman (Marianna Bassham) embarks on a series of outrageous adventures after she is forced to flee her home on Christmas Eve in a scene from ‘Reckless.’

True to its name, the SpeakEasy Stage Company's production of "Reckless" is just that. Director Scott Edmiston's interpretation is reckless in its spirit, script and style, exemplifying the show's invocation to take risks despite the potential repercussions. The show's morals and life lessons are not purely inspirational. "Reckless" writer Craig Lucas (writer of "Prelude to a Kiss," 1990) created a quirky, tragic and incredibly honest script that culminates in a surprising climax for a Christmas-centered play.

"Reckless" takes place over a couple of decades which are broken down and pieced together around the Christmas holiday. The main character, Rachel (Marianna Bassham), is an enthusiastic young mother whose tragic series of Christmases begins when her husband Tom (Barlow Adamson) inexplicably takes out a contract on her life. Rachel's relationships with the other characters she meets revolve around love mixed with lies. Rachel's attraction to destructive love is the source of one of the most poignant points in the show, when Rachel asks Lloyd (Larry Coen) if it is possible to ever really know somebody. The question is never directly answered as the characters learn about and share each other's past deceits.

"Reckless" is a show that laughs in the face of seriousness and then abruptly apologizes. The writer introduces Pooty (Kerry A. Dowling) and her husband Lloyd as Rachel's comical rescuers on her first tragic Christmas Eve. Their relationship with Rachel is not always humorous. After the trio's relationship is destroyed, the play takes a depressing dive for six almost entirely unseen and silent years of Rachel's life. At this moment, the show exposes itself as something more than just a comedy. It is a disheartening glimpse of how bad life can become — even for someone like Rachel, the most persistently optimistic believer in the miracle of Christmas.

The funniest parts of the show are the recurring therapy sessions that Rachel attends. Amazingly, Paula Plum performs all of the psychiatrists, succeeding in creating numerous hilarious characters. Here, Rachel confesses the most wildly unbelievable elements of her story to a string of psychiatrists that are never helpful to her — or, if they ever bother to listen, are incapable of believing. At these moments, reality is questioned, dismissed or misunderstood.

Bassham's performance as Rachel is refreshingly energetic and youthful. The character's love of Christmas, wish for a puppy and tendency to incessantly babble associates her more closely with a child than a mother. It is probably Bassham's portrayal of Rachel's annoyingly childlike characteristics that make the other characters both love and hate her, allowing the audience to vacillate in their feelings toward Rachel during different moments of the show.

The set for "Reckless" is attractive and festive, complementing the comedic beginning of the performance. Artificial Christmas trees hang upside down and right side up, creating a bright backdrop for what initially appears to be a simple, happy show. Just as Rachel quickly learns of her husband Tom's terrible deed, the stage is able to swiftly transform into a dark and lonely place devoid of light and company — except that of a red telephone. The stage and props do not attempt to appear realistic — a couch is also Lloyd's car — but are comical in their shortfalls and beautiful in their successes.

"Reckless" will be performing at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts through Dec. 12. Student tickets are available.

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Reckless
Written by Craig Lucas
Directed by Scott Edmiston
At the SpeakEasy Stage through Dec. 12
Tickets starting at $30, student discounts available

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