Betty's Summer Vacation, Christopher Durang's darkly funny satire of tabloid culture, ends its regional debut May 21 at Pittsburgh Public Theater after a run that began April 20.
Munson Hicks directs the well-reviewed Off-Broadway play about a vacationer who spends time in a "summer share" seaside cottage inhabited by a sex maniac, a serial killer, an abuse victim and an alcoholic. The ensuing absurdist mayhem strikes Betty as shocking but an unseen offstage group of "voices" delight in the wild ride. That offstage laughtrack eventually becomes dimensional when the roof caves in.
Pittsburgh audiences weren't as shocked as you might think by the comedy, which includes a severed penis as a prop. A sampling of theatregoers' responses has been posted on the Pittsburgh Public web site (www.ppt.org).
The comedy had its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in early 1999 and was poised for a commercial move that didn't occur due to lack of a suitable Off-Broadway venue. The play began its Washington DC premiere May 17 (through June 25) at The Studio Theatre. The Pittsburgh Public cast includes Deirdre Madigan (Betty), Garrett McKechnie (Buck), Pamela Dunlap (Mrs. Siezmagraff) Mark Fish (Keith), Helen Coxe (Trudy), Edmond Genest (Mr. Vanislaw) and Mark Enright, Elizabeth Flax Brad Bellamy (as Voices).
Designers are Richard Chambers (set), Mariann Verheyen (costumes) and Rita Pietraszek (lights).
Betty Summer Vacation tickets are $15-$42.
For tickets and further information, call (412) 316-1600 or visit the Public's box office at the O'Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Avenue, downtown.
The Durang play takes the place of a planned new work by Russell Lees, said to be about Thomas Jefferson.
"Russell is hard at work on fascinating material but I've decided his project needs a little more think time," Public artistic director Edward Gilbert said earlier in the season. "You can't rush these things."
Lees is author of the political comedy, Nixon's Nixon.
Gilbert stages The Cherry Orchard, beginning previews June 1. It will be his last directing duty as artistic director at the Public.
-- By Kenneth Jones