At some point we’ve all lived paycheck to paycheck, but what if your paycheck didn’t cover the necessities, like a home, utilities, gas and food? What would you do then?
The saying “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” holds true in Bethany at The Old Globe. Crystal, the main character, finds herself squatting in a foreclosed home with a paranoid derelict while trying to close a car sale with a motivational speaker who is in denial of his own desperate situation. Like many Americans that hit hard times during the recession, Crystal struggles to get her life back to normal no matter the obstacles.
As audience members, we feel compassion for Crystal. Through no fault of her own she has lost her child, Bethany, to foster care and is about to lose her job at the Saturn dealership because it’s going out of business.
Playwright, Laura Marks addresses the hardships of a broken economy by representing many sides of those who were once in the workforce, like Charlie, the motivational speaker who offers advice on achieving prosperity, yet is waiting on his own success.
Then there is delusional Gary, Crystal’s fellow squatter, who has disconnected from society and concocts a plan to start a utopian life with Crystal and her daughter outside the bounds of the capitalistic establishment. Under normal circumstances Crystal would run from Gary at their first meeting, but she is as desperate as he is and needs his cooperation in her own scheme to get back on her feet.
In the program Marks states, “The play’s setting is never explicitly stated, but people were seeing their own communities in it, which is what I had hoped had would happen”. I can assure her that I did envision the play based in San Diego and can relate to the difficulties that my community faced. At times I found Crystal’s behavior confusing, but after processing the play I have a better understanding of what Marks is attempting to accomplish.