By: Susan Hasho
Be A Good Little Widow, by Bekah Brunstetter, is a very good play. It’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride that focuses on the death of a husband and the reaction of those closest to him. The surprise of this piece is how much humor is in the play.
The director Elena Araoz has given this production a very clear emotional journey, filling out each turn with subtlety and surprise.
The play opens with a young newly married couple Craig (Matt Bittner) and Melody (Aamira Welthy) sharing a pretty ordinary home life. He’s not home enough; she’s bored in the suburbs, but it’s clear they love each other. The mother in law Hope (Chris Holliday) comes for dinner to Melody’s extreme discomfort, and Matt leaves for a business trip the next morning. He has an assistant Brad (Robbie Tann) that comes by the house that morning to retrieve a forgotten cell phone in order to take it to the airport before Matt’s departure. And then Melody hears about a plane crash and it becomes clear that Matt has been killed in the crash.
From here on the play starts to expose the emotional fallout of Matt’s death on his wife, mother and coworker in surprising ways. Melody, unsure of how to cope, clashes with Hope’s insistence on correct behavior and control. Hope’s control finds its limits. And Brad and Melody find that grief can have savage effects on their boundaries with each other, leading them to unexpected behavior. The funeral exposes a sweet vulnerability in Hope. And throughout the final scenes of the play, Craig reappears to Melody to establish some sort of normality and comfort.
Aamira Welthy seems somewhat stiff in the opening scenes, but settles in as the emotional temperature of the play rises. She is ultimately very capable of negotiating the emotional curves demanded of her by the playwright. Matt Bittner is very good as a sweet soul who’s enjoying his newly found married life and Robbie Tann fits easily into Brad’s slightly awkward but sweet emotional shoes. Chris Holliday hits each moment as Craig’s mother dead on, with enough subtlety to make her transformation at the end very believable and moving.
This is a very worthwhile experience that has two performances left—Saturday Sept 21st at 8pm and Sunday 22nd at 3pm at the Wild Project, located at 195 East 3rd Street between Avenue A and Avenue B in New York City.