Benchwarmers showcase told stories of difficult subjects

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By Gina Velasquez

Los Alamos playwright Robert F. Benjamin keeps the theme of aging, grief and moving on in the 10-minute short play, “Too Soon.”
Benjamin’s story of a widowed father and still-grieving daughter is one of the eight productions featured in Benchwarmers 13 at Santa Fe Playhouse. The other playwrights were Larry Glaister, Alix Hudson, Kelly Huertas, Chadney Everett, Lisa Gray Fisher, Mary Boliek and Alma Reposadas.
“Too Soon,” was a touching tale of a man who has been widowed for about a year, his willingness to move on with his life and his daughter’s inability to accept that he must. Played by Steven Oakey, Frank is a strong character, who just wants to be happy again and butts heads with his daughter, Dawn on how that is going to happen. Nicole Phelps’s performance as Dawn is unapologetic and emotional. Her grief was felt way down deep.
Much like Benjamin’s plays, this one deals with the harshness of loss and the struggles to move on — despite guilt that makes one think that they can’t or shouldn’t. Benjamin writes about topics that are realistic to human psyche. Suffering from bereavement and then moving on from it is one of the hardest things a person can deal with.
The introduction of the entire show, started with a tribute to the late Dan Gerrity, who was the producer of Benchwarmers for the last seven years. In between each story was the amusing tactics of the “crew.” The show started and stopped with the humorous stage hands, which I didn’t realize until almost the end, was the play by Reposadas called Tech 13. Nice touch.
All of the productions were a mix of seriousness and humor. All touched on some sensitive subjects such as loss, helplessness and being unsure about how to handle sexual orientation.
Only one really made me laugh out loud and that was “Senior Trip.” The story of three women — up in age — at a 1980s theme night on a cruise ship. The ladies are even dressed to the gills in the era’s garments.
The three characters, played by Ann Roylance, Kathi Collins and Cindy Coulter, had the right blend of humor that was present throughout. The roles meshed well and the actors made Mona, Irma and Josie believable.
Written by Kelly Huertas and directed by Erin O’Shaughnessy, this one kept my attention with a light heart (maybe because I loved the 1980s).
There is still time to catch Benchwarmers 13. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $20 adults, $15 children age 17 and under. Call 988-4862, or visit santafeplayhouse.org.