REVIEW: QUALITY OF LIFE at Benchmark Theatre

by Michael Mulhern

WOW…JUST…WOW…

The exquisite script by Jane Anderson is so raw and real and delves deep and deeper into the questions of Life, Death, and the Pursuit of everything in between. The loaded play deals with so many issues that affect us all including marriage, politics, religion, drugs, family and even suicide; but presents it in a fascinating manner. 

This moving production was made even more personally pertinent as I lost my Grandfather a week later. Grandpop Mulhern was a man that loved life and family to the fullest for 91 years and if I can exemplify him in any way, I will be a happier person for it. I love you Grandpa – this is dedicated to you.

I have to admit these two couples have been dealt some pretty heavy blows in their lives (loss of a child, loss of a home, terminal cancer) but ii is how they deal with these traumas through personal reflection and interpersonal confrontation that makes this extraordinarily haunting play impossible to turn away from.

For me this play evokes you to contemplate that in the most tragic of circumstances, ARE YOU LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE?!?

Under the thoughtful and remarkable direction of Warren Sherrill, this is one of the best ensembles I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing onstage. Haley Johnson, Marc Stith, Mark Collins, Emily Paton Davies took the time to explore now only their own characters’ backgrounds, flaws, and strifes; but also the relationships amongst each other. Honestly, it reminded me of the old days of Paragon Theater, (one of the best theater companies in Denver) that elevated the craft of acting with extraordinary productions and outstanding ensembles, but sadly went dark years ago.

I was also thoroughly impressed by the scenic design by Brandon Case. While simplistic at first sight, there was so much complexity in the details and really emphasized the theme of making the best of an awful situation.

I have to applaud Benchmark Theatre for consistently elevating the Quality of Theater here in Denver!!!

 You will laugh; you will cry; and you will be thoroughly moved by this remarkable ensemble.

Live you Life and see THE QUALITY OF LIFE at Benchmark Theatre running now through October 6th . Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm and Sunday evenings at 6pm. The production will take place at the company’s home at The Bench at 40West in the 40West Arts District in Lakewood at 1560 Teller Street. Please visit www.benchmarktheatre.com to purchase tickets.

Lastly, I have to include this personal note from the director that moved me to tears before the show even started..Thank You Warren Sherrill for your astute and wonderful words and admirable direction of this hauntingly noteworthy play.

From the Director  – 

A little over a year ago my mother and my siblings and I had to make some tough decisions regarding my father’s life. He was on life support after being quite ill for years with numerous health issues. He was always a fighter and constantly baffled his doctors with how he would always pull through. This made it even harder to eventually decide to take him off the support and watch him die. My initial concern, other than l knowing I was going to miss him like crazy, was how my mother was going to live without him. They had been together for over 50 years and he was all she knew and all she ever wanted to know. She was his caregiver for roughly the last 10 years of his life. 

Now I wouldn’t say my mother is an extremely religious person but I can say that she believes, and she finds comfort in her beliefs when it comes to dealing with death. Watching my mother handle her husband’s death intrigued me. She was a champ. I was happy to know that this slight comfort for my mother was due to what she believed in and it made me…dare I say it…a little envious.

The Quality of Life is not about choosing sides, It’s not about the religious and political differences between these couples living radically different lives. It’s about identifying the fact that, guess what… “we are all in the same canoe here, baby”…and we are all scared…and we all need comfort…and yes…we all die.

 

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