After the financial collapse of 2008, some theaters reacted by dusting off old playwrights whose work reflects the current crisis—Chekhov's real-estate obsessions, Arthur Miller's busted American dream, Dario Fo's slapstick class warfare. But Bethany, by Laura Marks, is one of the first plays in which every character and every line is soaked in 21st-century economic anxiety.
Physically, Bethany floats in a void. Director John Langs and set designer Carey Wong have set the play in the round and carved a moat around the perimeter of the stage, with dim blue light shining up from below—a visual reminder that each of these characters, at every moment, is standing near the edge of a precipice.
Crystal (Emily Chisholm), a single mother and saleswoman at a doomed Saturn dealership, breaks into a house in foreclosure, hoping to squat there long enough to fool Child Protective Services into thinking she's financially stable—a requirement to get her daughter Bethany back. But the house already has an occupant, a skittish man named Gary (Darragh Kennan). They're both financial refugees, but Crystal still wears a skirt and suit jacket, where Gary's bristly beard, body odor, and paranoia about "society" and "the government" going down the tubes are an omen of where she might be headed if she's destitute long enough.