Dead babies and dysfunctional families color the comedy “The Marriage of Bette and Boo.” The University of La Verne Department of Theatre Arts cast performed the black comedy with intelligence and vulnerability as they dealt with issues regarding alcoholism, postpartum depression and verbal domestic violence.
“The Marriage of Bette and Boo” exaggerates difficult issues that every family deals with, pushing the audience to laughter instead of tears. Throughout the play, they take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster filled with hatred, joy, sadness and stress.
“It’s a strange mix of really tragic things and really funny things right together,” director Steven Kent said. “Sometimes you go, ‘That’s awful—geez that is funny.’ And I like that mix.”
The cast of 10 fully committed and very rarely did anyone seem false or fake. Instead, they took on the persona of their character.
“I think it is so emotionally fantastic,” Michaela Bulkley, freshman theater major and play publicist, said. “The first time I read it I didn’t really understand it, or like it, and didn’t know what was going on. When I saw the actors doing it and putting their whole heart into it and fully performing it, I was so blown away.”
Character lead Daniel Ramirez, who played Matt/Skippy, captured the character’s soul with his intelligent monologues filled with allusions to Virgina Woolf, Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hardy.
“He is trying to figure out why he is as wiggy as he is, and so he is putting this production together,” Kent said.
“And the production is not structured chronologically; it is as he remembers it. So if he thinks of so-and-so, he might think of someone else and that shows up on the stage,” he said.
Sarah Rae Jackson, senior theater major, perfected Bette through research on postpartum depression, and by acknowledging the qualities she shared with her character.
“I’m a lot like Bette because I like kids and want a lot of kids, too,” Jackson said. “So the first time I read it I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be my life.’ I felt like I needed to do this role because if I didn’t, I would forever think that that is going to be my life. So if I play it, it’ll be a character to me.”
Jacob Tittl, senior theater major, successfully took on the persona of an alcoholic and played a convincing Boo. He excelled in a comedic scene where he argued with Bette over vacuuming gravy from the carpet.
Students can relate to the familial issues the play highlights; and while some appreciated the humor, others disliked the content.
“I was uncomfortable the entire time,” Megan Soucy, sophomore psychology major, said. “You want everyone to be happy, but they weren’t.”
“I don’t think it was too crude at all, and the writing was right on point,” Adam Cusic, sophomore physics major, said.
The cast and crew took the intense content and rose to the challenge by executing a performance with a mix of comedy and vulnerability.
“The performance levels of the cast have kind of blown my mind,” Kent said. “They all are hard working and maintain such good humor and I am so grateful to them.”
Hayley Hulin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.