The moral deterioration of Crystal, to whom the fates have dealt a bad hand (worst of all, the surrender of her daughter to foster care), is startling in the Old Globe’s production of Laura Marks’ one-act Bethany. Jennifer Ferrin takes initially sweet and persevering car saleswoman Crystal to some very dark places, and her transformation is the strongest element of Bethany, which often strains believability: Desperate though she may be, would Crystal really tolerate a flammable paranoid like homeless Gary (Carlo Alban) as a “roommate” in the foreclosed-on house they’re squatting in? Could she so easily forge a lease to fool a smart social worker (Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson)?
Bethany’s final half-hour is pretty harrowing, its sketchy stage-fighting aside. Marks’ play makes a graphic statement about survival in terrible times.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.