Pursued By A Bear

Fresh Thoughts on Theatre

Making Lemonade out of Citrus Groves of Terrible

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Following a car accident that left her permanently disabled, Beatrice (Liz Vermeulen) makes the most of her life as the beautiful spokesmodel for Dry Ones Adult Diapers. She splits her time between her quirky accountant, Tabitha (Jordan Cimmino), her stereotypical, promiscuous agent (Cristina Vazquez), and her hunky male nurse, Vargas (Miguel Di Costanzo); these people seem to be her only friends and their companionship is vital to her well-being.

The play follows our protagonist, Beatrice, as she navigates her fluctuating relevance to her diaper agency. While her employer is courting potential new spokesmodels, Beatrice goes on the offensive to avoid change: an understandable aspiration, but therein lies the conflict of the play, and the source of several textual shortcomings. To fight against the oncoming tempest of change, Beatrice begins by trying to make her character more sympathetic. This is the play’s only moment of relevant social commentary. Unfortunately, our fascination or preoccupation with the sob story and its tendency to give someone their fifteen minutes of fame is too briefly discussed to catapult this play onto a higher level.

Further conflict arises when Beatrice’s staff starts to make preparations to move on with their careers, effectively leaving Beatrice behind. Rather than allow this to come to pass, Beatrice begins a campaign to make her staff unhirable to anyone else. Beatrice’s cry for help and attempt to keep her world from changing is supposed to be an understandable human reaction, but her methods are deplorable, and Vermeulen’s efforts to make our wheelchair bound heroine sympathetic fall flat, a true feat for the disabled.

The Overtime’s producing artistic director William Razavi does the best here with what he’s been given, adding notes of the classic Razavi camp I’ve grown to love. This is not his script, however, and the times Razavi’s signature comes out are few and very far between. Further, our young cast feels amateurish. There is not enough for our actors to do on stage and they do not have the experience necessary to make the several two person scenes engaging. Young Cimmino’s hurls her body around the stage like her entire weight is in her shoulders, giving her performance an affectation that I sincerely hope was unintentional. Vazquez’ Dolly Buttons verges on a stereotype that feels out of place and offensive in San Antonio. It often feels stagnant and could use a serious cutting as well as some stylistic editing. The play is vulgar but for no purpose other than seemingly to be vulgar with no sense that the vulgarity served any narrative purpose.

While the Overtime is a volunteer run theatre space, typically their productions have more polish to them. Truly—to quote Beatrice—to enjoy this play is to “make lemonade out of citrus groves of terrible.” One more weekend to catch Beatrice and the Puppies at The Overtime. For its faults, Beatrice is a night of entertainment and it has enough laughs to keep one engaged, but if you are looking for anything deeper than cheap laughs, another show might be for you.

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Author: KEB

Evan Brooks is an amateur theatre critic and dramaturg living in South Central Texas.

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