Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: Excellence in Tame Circumstances on THE BENCH

pixeltracker
BWW Review: Excellence in Tame Circumstances on THE BENCH
Robert Galinsky in THE BENCH
Photography Credit: Aidan Grant

A homeless man reclaims love in a hopeless place in writer, actor, Robert Galinsky's THE BENCH. This lovingly rendered one-man production is a scrumptious basket of vivid details that sings out with clarion truth. These street walkers, bag men, and tramps are embodied with exacting detail in the kind of star turn that old school actors and worshipers of the craft dream about. Notwithstanding these numerous virtues, one is left deflated at the play's relentless dearth of excitement. Though Galinsky meticulously captures the soul of each persona and effortlessly switches back and forth between their dialogue, there is a lack of propulsion and energy to the plot. While that might be besides the point, it does not overcome the enervating effect of this hour-long character study.

BWW Review: Excellence in Tame Circumstances on THE BENCH
Robert Galinsky in THE BENCH
Photography Credit: Aidan Grant

A group of homeless men discuss a woman who has given them all good sex and HIV. Though she is the mother of their deceased child, one of these men broke off a relationship with her because her "love is for sale". How they come to reconnect is the push behind THE BENCH. An advocate of education and prison reform, it is clear that Galinsky knows and respects the people he is playing. His chameleon-like portrayal of each is not so much mimicry as it is channeling spirits. Perhaps this is why it all seems so precious: these creations are less than holy and yet one gathers that Galinsky feels that they are more than - as if he were delivering a sensitive documentary, eschewing even the slightest sensationalist twinge. There is tension amongst the denizens of this bench but no real conflict: they are four fully-fleshed characters in desperate need of something interesting to happen. Without a doubt, this is an accurate display of life for many homeless people, but onstage the absence of heightened drama feels dull.

BWW Review: Excellence in Tame Circumstances on THE BENCH
Robert Galinsky in THE BENCH
Photography Credit: Aidan Grant

"How can one be anything but entertained in the face of such exquisitely tuned portraits?" One imagines that director, Jay O. Sander was seduced by this sentiment while tweaking this spectacle of verisimilitude. In a way, this quiet production feels as if it were meant to be filmed. Not much happens and for that reason the jump-cuts and close-ups afforded by filming might have created the distance, angles, and dynamics one longed for while watching this single shot into how the less fortunate live. THE BENCH is like a radio play - talk business vs show business - waiting to be filmed. It would be nice to see this wonderful accomplishment refocused with less tribute in its DnA and more tempestuous drama. Galinsky is certainly more than capable of creating that missing effect. Here's hoping he does.

THE BENCH runs through December 17th, 2017 at Cherry Lane Theatre. For more information, visit: www.galinskyplace.com or www.cherrylanetheatre.org


Related Articles View More Off-Broadway Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Juan Michael Porter II