THE EXECUTION OF NANCY DREW IN WACO TEXAS
THE EXECUTION OF NACY DREW IN WACO TEXAS by Joe Besecker and directed by Meredity Meeks. Was presented at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, EXIT Theatre: 156 Eddy St on Wed. Sept. 7, Sept. 10, and Sept. 13, 2011.
It may be that Joe Besecker’s luck has run out even though he was extremely lucky to have his latest absurdist political opus selected for presentation at the San Francisco Fringe Festival. For the uninitiated to the workings of the SF Fringe, all plays and performance pieces are strictly by lottery. This is Besecker’s seventh straight (I use the word “straight” advisedly) year to have won the Fringe lottery. This time around, he does not disappoint although his extremely complex murder mystery did not grab the brass ring as previous offerings did.
Take a young woman named Nancy who grew up being addicted to Nancy Drew Mysteries and (horrors) she marries a Republican with the name of Ned Drew in order to get her jollies by becoming her heroine if in name only. Before continuing, be advised that the play would be more cogent to older members of the audience. For those who are younger, there is a plethora of contemporary names scattered about to hold your interest. Also you can go to www.nancy-drew.mysterynet.com for more information.
Joe Besecker is a master of play construction and rarely relies on exposition to define on or off-stage characters. Nancy Drew never appears on stage; after all she is in prison for murdering Ned and scattering his remains around town (or somewhere) and is to be executed in three days. This is reason enough for Texas, specifically Waco (read wacko), former home of David Koresh and the Branch Dividian religious sect, to do her in.
Nancy has confessed to the crime she did not commit and two of her best friends with their kooky husbands have arrived to find out the truth and get Nancy released. They are Lacy Roosevelt (Andi C. Trindle), a political speech writer, her straight laced lawyer husband Jeremy (Wayne Roadie) and Alyssia (Melisa Keith) and Lucas Ferrell (Jeffrey Crawford) who own a goat ranch in Vermont and just happen to fabulously rich but keep that hidden.
Into this mix, Besecker has thrown in a gay couple (you knew he would) Scott (Michael Sally) a detective and Ryan (Christopher Geritz) a mystery writer who has aspirations of being the next Truman Capote writing a novel similar to In Cold Blood, after he has interviewed Nancy in prison. It just happens that Ryan’s former lover died under suspicious circumstances with an accidental hanging due to his sleep disorder. Don’t ask.
There are 12 scenes with the final scene taking place in “The Moss Covered Mansion”. . . oh yes, there is the proverbial almost deserted mansion ala Nancy Drew Message in a Haunted Mansion. Did I mention there is a twisted candle that leads to the message? The twists and turns to the plot are legion and just when you think Besecker has given us a clue, think again, another solution rears its ugly head.
Every mystery must have a denouement and Besecker does not disappoint. His twisted mind-set for this play (and for a couple of others) is in overdrive and his denouement is a document to outclass all denouements. Did I mention that the author is a name dropper? He likes to write plays about flawed artist including Tennessee Williams (Tennessee in the Summer),Edward Albee (Bee-Eye), Sylvia Platt (The Way Water Strikes Filled Mason Jars [a fringe winner])and John Cage (The Dance Atop the Glorious Red Fez). He outdoes his previous plays throwing in the names of the possible or abetting suspects, including the deceased David Koresh: The Winklevoss twins, Omar Sharif, Mahatma Ghandi, Barbara Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Rahm Israel Emanuel, The Secret Service and of Course the CIA.
Besecker is not known for subtle satire and for this play he abandons subtly and reverts to no-too-subtle sarcasm that he swings like a baseball bat that should have the audience in stitches but does not. Much of this is due to the uneven casting for this extremely clever play. Melissa Keith is much too brassy and Wayne Roadie is much too bland thus unbalancing the cast. Apparently Besecker is experimenting with theatrical construction testing whether an expository performance piece can be a meaningful theatrical event. With a professional cast, the answer is yes.
Kedar K. Adour, MD