New Jersey in the summer. Sounds like beach parties and the time of your life, right? Think again. This Spring’s Yuba College theatrical production, “Betty’s Summer Vacation,” is far from ordinary as six strangers take you for a spin in their dramatic and hysterical lives. This performance is spectacular.
“Betty’s Summer Vacation” was written by Christopher Durang and is directed on the Yuba College stage by Annie Wheeler. This play is not meant for the faint-hearted or prude, but directly relates to a younger audience. It is explicit, violent, rude, and eye-opening.
“All the language is a comment on how we are dealing with the media and everything else right now,” Wheeler said. “There is nothing political in this, and Christopher Durang leaves everything out on purpose because it is not important.”
“I’m sure eight people were killed in Iraq today but nobody cares,” Wheeler continued. “Britney shaved her head. That is 6 o’clock news. That is the whole point of this thing. All we want to hear about are these people in the media and their downfall. We could care less about what is going on. Entertain us. Entertain us. We want entertainment.”
And entertainment is what we get with this play-in a disturbing way.
Betty, played by Sarah Skinner, is the only sane character. She watches from afar as the other characters conduct mischief. Betty relates to the audience by questioning the others’ behavior. Trudy, played by Ada Schmidt, is a misunderstood girl who had been sexually assaulted as a child repeatedly by her father. She is also friends with Betty and accompanies her to the beach house.
Buck, played by Keith Ganon, is a raunchy alcoholic that every college guy can relate to. Keith, played by Matt Monaco, is a serial killer who keeps the heads of his victims in a hat box. Mrs. Seizmagraff, played by Janet Frye-Stottmann, is Trudy’s mother who barges in on the group and makes herself at home. Mr. Vanislaw, played by Christopher McAdams, is Mrs. Seizmagraff’s inappropriate dinner guest who flashes his penis every chance he gets.
These six strangers meet at a beach house on the New Jersey coast for what they think is going to be a nice, relaxing summer vacation. However, even the first day starts out with a strange twist as the characters find they are not alone in the house, but shared by three voices. The voices, played by Ben Mathews, Shari Lininger, and Ryan McGuffy, which come from the ceiling of the beach house, represent our society, as it constantly insists on being entertained.
Nothing like this has ever been performed at Yuba College. It is shocking and entertaining the whole way through.
“There is a rape, which is no laughing matter,” Wheeler said. “But, (Durang) does it in a way that its satire was not meant to empathize with these characters. We are meant to sit at a distance and watch this unfold.”
“There is also the laugh track and the voices that break through the wall,” Wheeler continued. “You will see that all of a sudden, as these two girls go skipping off on their neat summer vacation, all hell breaks loose.”