Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Bench, Robert Galinsky's searing play about homelessness, directed by Jay O. Sanders

How could I pass up a play that had as its author and sole performer, and as its director, men I had known since our children had all been in elementary school together? I got to know Jay O. Sanders, the director, and his wife, Maryann Plunkett because my daughter, Liz, and their son, Jamie, became close friends. I didn't know Robert Galinsky well at the time, which was my loss. During conversation after the play, we recalled our connection, which I now wish had been closer.

I saw the play in November, when it was at the Cherry Lane Theater in the West Village. There were only two performances left in its run there, and I hoped to write it up before it ended. Unfortunately, work and other responsibilities prevented that. I'm now delighted that Mr. Galinsky has notified me, by e-mail, that there will be more performances, on Friday evenings January 26 through April 13, in a new venue, the East Village Playhouse.

The play shows Mr. Galinsky to be highly skilled both as a writer and as an actor. Alone on stage, with a backdrop of artworks depicting New York street scenes by Daphne Arthur and a musical score by Deep Singh, he brings to life five distinct characters -- four men and one woman -- and makes us see them as individuals, each with a distinct background and story. We see their bonds and their conflicts, sometimes sharp and loud, but also the love that sustains them. Most of all, we see that the circumstances that put them on the streets are not "bad choices" but simply bad luck.

I cannot recommend this enough. Tickets for for the January 26 and February 2 performances are sold out, but tickets for the remaining performances may be purchased here.