Arts and Entertainment

Learning to drive at the Jewel Box

Bronsyn Foster-Springer (left) plays the roll of Li’l Bit in the Jewel Box’s staging of “How I Learned to Drive.” Larry Blain (center) plays her Uncle Peck.  - Richard Thorton
Bronsyn Foster-Springer (left) plays the roll of Li’l Bit in the Jewel Box’s staging of “How I Learned to Drive.” Larry Blain (center) plays her Uncle Peck.
— image credit: Richard Thorton

In some ways, you wish Li’l Bit could’ve just taken a regular old Driver’s Ed course.

As the Jewel Box Theatre debuts the Paula Vogel play “How I Learned To Drive” at 8 p.m. Friday, there are likely to be more than a few things audience members wish could’ve gone different for the show’s leading lady.

The play revolves around the story of Li’l Bit’s adolescent and teenage years, age 11 to 18, and sickly enough, her sexually abusive Uncle Peck’s quest to have sex with her. It’s told through a mixture of flashbacks, narration and monologue with a minimalist set and a small cast.

Beside the two main characters Lil’ Bit and Uncle Peck, three actors will play the other roles which have an affect on their lives and the affair.

Li’l Bit grew up in a rural Maryland town during the 1960s with a large extended family. She lives with her mother, who had her at a very young age, her god-fearing grandmother, a sexist and ignorant grandfather, her Uncle Peck, a veteran and recovering alcoholic, and her Aunt Mary.

When Li’l Bit is 11, her Uncle Peck offers to take her out and teach her how to drive, but instead he uses the opportunity to molest her. At that age, Lil’ Bit is too young to understand, and while her mother and aunt suspect that Peck has an unhealthy interest in his niece, they do nothing about it. So it continues and gets progressively as Lil’ Bit enters puberty.

Though Peck makes extremely uncomfortable, he is also comforting as the only member of Li’l Bit’s family who is kind to her and supportive of her dreams and college ambitions. And since they are both seemingly “outsiders” in the family, she feels an odd kinship toward him.

Even after Li’l Bit goes away to college, Peck continues to send gifts and letters counting down to her 18th birthday, at which time he’s hoping he will finally get to make love to her.

“How I Learned to Drive” debuts at 8 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Jewel Box Theatre, 225 Iverson St., in Poulsbo. The show will run through March 1 with curtains at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. matinees Feb. 10 and 24. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for youth, seniors and military. Info: www.jewelboxpoulsbo.org or call (360) 779-9688.

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