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HART play looks at mid-life muddle

COURTESY PHOTO - Bryan Luttrell (Walter Flood), Karen Huckfeldt (Kenni Flood), Carl Dahlquist (Chris Foster), Paul Roder (Steve Singletary), David Roberts (Joe Foster) and Patti Speight (Becky Foster) star in Beckys New Car, premiering at HART Theatre on Friday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m.A new play in Hillsboro captures the essence of middle-age muddle.

HART Theatre, 185 S.E. Washington St., will premiere “Becky’s New Car,” a play by Stephen Dietz and directed by Dorinda Toner, on Friday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m.

The play follows the story of Becky Foster, played by Patty Speight, who is caught in middle age, middle management and in a middling marriage — with no prospects for change on the horizon. She’s an everyday kind of woman with a good job, house and husband, Joe (played by David Roberts), a quietly loving and supportive partner who deals with the vagaries of life with a calm sureness.

One night, a socially inept and grief-stricken millionaire stumbles into the car dealership where Becky works, and she’s suddenly offered nothing short of a new life.

“The story does not end neatly. It’s not tragic, but it’s not necessarily happy ever after — it’s real life,” said Paul Roder, HART’s artistic director. “This production is about ambiguity, uncertainty, loss, risk, human frailty and the randomness of what life can throw at you.”

Rehearsals for the production have been going for five weeks, a bit shorter than the usual six to eight weeks spent on practices for plays at HART.

“[Toner] knew what she wanted, had her process down and had a lot of faith in the cast,” said Roder, who also plays a part in the production.

A special feature about the production process, according to Roder, was that the entire production team is almost entirely female.

“It was only fitting that we try to do that, given the title and topic of the play,” he said. “It’s a small ensemble cast, only seven, and the relationship between director, staff and actors has been an easy, enjoyable and productive one.”

Roder hopes people will recognize many aspects of themselves in the characters — and perhaps some of their circumstances as well.

Toner concurs.

“A couple of years ago I had the privilege of seeing this show onstage, and I enjoyed it immensely and for days after, I could not get the story out of my head — so I ordered the script for myself,” she said. “I was fascinated by the duality of being both happy and dissatisfied with one’s life.”

Toner noted that it would be easy to vilify some of the choices made by characters in the production, but urges audiences to go along for the ride. Sometimes, it takes big mistakes for people to realize the good they already possess, she noted.