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Production mixes humor with sensitive stories of aging

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Review > Written by Los Alamos playwright Robert Benjamin, the play runs until Nov. 10 in Santa Fe.

By Gina Schultz

 

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“Salt and Pepper” is a play dealing with aging, grief, illness and death. Sounds serious, but with a mix of humor and hope there was a heartwarming view of those sensitive subjects. 

Written by Los Alamos playwright Robert Benjamin and directed by Beth Kennedy Jones, the full-length production consisted of seven separate short skits, each with its own take on the dreaded topics. 

In the first skit, titled “Resting Places,” the female character played by Deborah Dennison, sitting in a Santa Fe park, struggles physically with things that used to be “easy,” when she meets a young man played by Rick Vargas. The two have a battle of wits and a clash of generations. The humor between these two characters is a constant, humorous banter. 

“Warm Ashes” was a heartwarming tale of the rekindling of past love set in a bed and breakfast. The discussion between the two characters includes their roles of the 1960s of adventurous vs. reliable and seeing life as a journey. The counterparts are whimsically played by Fran Martone and Tad Jones. 

The third skit, called “Footwork,” is about a couple starting anew after the loss of spouses. The still vibrant man and woman have issues with love and loss and the aspect of healing. This subject hit me pretty hard, considering I too was a widow and had struggles with healing and moving on. Alaina Warren Zachary and Larry Glaister showed the proper anguish through their dialogue. They would surprisingly finish each other’s sentences, although it is clear this is a first date. There was also great contrast with the roles and attitudes of men and women. 

“Forever” takes place with two women waiting for their turn in a post office. Sensitive and emotional issues of what is going to happen to survivors after one passes is portrayed with emotional depth by Deborah Hayden and Jennifer Graves. 

The fifth skit is called “Awaiting,” where a couple married for more than 40 years struggle with the notion of telling their children of the woman’s new found illness. Their humorous dialogue and intimate moments were played delightfully by Jennifer Graves and Tone Forrest. 

“Some Say,” which I must say, was glad it was toward the end. It was a real tearjerker of a woman at her late husband’s grave having a conversation of her fears of her current relationship ending the same way and the struggle to move forward despite all of it. 

The final skit, “Plots” is the young man from the first skit and a film about old newlyweds at the grave of his first wife, (the man played by Kerry Kehoe) with the lady from the park playing the lead. It closes on a good note, exploring all realms of each subject. The entire production flowed beautifully and showed the emotional side of all sensitive subjects of aging. 

I took my mother to opening night with Benjamin’s approval. “It is wonderful to see a mother/daughter team come to these type of shows,” he said.

 My mother walked away happy, thoroughly enjoying the show.

There is an off-Broadway production that opened in New York City Oct. 25 called “Wrinkles.” It is the same concept of this show with bits of revision. “Salt and Pepper” has performed in Dixon and Taos, before its stop in Santa Fe. 

There is still time to see the production. It runs Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. until Nov. 10 at Teatro Paraguas Studio, 3205 Calle Marie in Santa Fe. Tickets are $18 general admission, $15 seniors and students. For more information call 424-1601, or visit teatroparaguas.org.