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"Betty's Summer Vacation"


Christopher Durang's Betty's Summer Vacation is meant to be absurdist but verges on the idiotic. Betty and Trudy, young woman friends, arrive in a rented seaside cottage. The other rooms are taken by a timid serial killer and an insatiable macho fornicator. Trudy is a nonstop chatterbox, blaming it on the years her father was raping her while Mummy stood by mum. Soon her mother, who happens to own the cottage, chooses to move in. She, or at least in the way Kristine Nielsen is made to play her, is a caricature of Ann Miller, which by the second hour, if not sooner, becomes wearisome. There is also, lodged somewhere in the ceiling, a choir of three voices in unison, plus a laugh track, that eggs on the characters to enact everything from monstrous sitcoms to Court TV. Betty is just any of us, being slowly driven nuts.

But, unlike the hapless cast, any of us can leave. I didn't, out of respect for Durang's past and curiosity about what the director and cast, headed by Kellie Overbey, could make of all this. Also, there was the spectacle of my colleagues rocking with laughter, thus filling me with pity and terror, which, according to Aristotle, is what drama is meant to do.


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