A short play, “The Park Bench” made its world debut Dec. 2 at the Just Off Broadway when Denny Day’s new play began its work-shopping toward a polished piece of literature with out a dark turn or heavy message to impart.
For the piece, Day wrote a two-person script and entrusted it to Kansas City veteran actors Marilyn Lynch and Allen Boardman. A press release sets the stage for the one hour play.
“Following similar car troubles at opposite corners of the park, a man and a woman (both of a “certain age”) enjoy a chance encounter on a park bench. ‘The Park Bench’ is a charming and witty play penned by Denny Day and directed by Warren Deckert.”
A talk-back after the debut allowed the audience to voice thoughts, ideas, and ask questions about the play. Neither playwright nor actors knew where the piece will land. Could it be Act I of a full play, or could it be developed as a Fringe piece for an upcoming Fringe Festival? Both remain active possibilities.
What shows is a great relationship formed from a chance encounter between two people with some strange similarities and differences. Both have car trouble and both have parallel conversations with another person via their cell phones. She graduated from MIT in the East; he, from Stanford in the West. Both are mathematicians–she a retired upper echelon employee of Merrill-Lynch; he, an executive for the IRS. Similar backgrounds, yet so different bring them together on a park bench awaiting a ride to rescue them from their car problems.
The most engrossing part is their game of categories, kind of like a Truth or Dare game (best meal ever; first date; best day you remember). The back and forth between them draws the audience into their characters. Perhaps a bit of friendly rivalry could give them some added color: one could like the Chiefs and the other the Royals and the discussion as they spar over that would also bring the audience into their lives as well.
Part of the delight in this piece is the focus on Kansas City. They meet in Loose Park. They mention speed traps on Lamar. She mentions the big curve and flashing lights for speeders. These and more are keys to unlock thoughts and smiles from the audience as they recognize these landmarks or special categories in their game.
The piece leaves an open ending so the audience forms their own conclusions. “The Park Bench” scheduled only a 3-day run to test the waters. From audience reaction the piece will change as it develops further.
The play continues this weekend only at the Just Off Broadway Theatre. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the door.
TAGS: Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, Theatre, Kansas City Theater, Performing Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, “The Park Bench”