BenchMARKS produced by Project E/C, written by Melanie Fiona Bevell-Jackson, and directed by Colleen Theresa Brown “is dialogue and flashback vignettes that provide a peek into the lives of two men struggling to break free from their painful pasts that have permeated various aspects of their lives—their jobs, relationships, and how they view themselves in a post-war context.” Bevell-Jackson shares, “having worked for the Military as an Army Medic and ER RN, I have firsthand experience caring for those affected by combat and non-combat related trauma.”
The four actors, Cristen Stephansky, David Berkenbilt, William Powell, Jr., and Tramaine Stevenson do a phenomenal job conveying the pain of their situations.
The play’s set design is minimalist and cleverly utilizes a park bench in all scenes where the men meet from time to time to talk about their troubles. It is an intimate portrait of what it is like to have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for these two men with one who fought in Vietnam and one in Korea. The two men are accompanied in various scenes by their wives. One scene shows one of the men in happier times dancing with his wife, then another scene fighting off nightmares while sleeping and his wife comforts him.
The play clearly shows the depth of the suffering of PTSD for the men and their families. While one man got help, the other man tries to buries his demons We are left at the end of this short play with a feeling of hope as one of the men encourages the other one to have hope.
In the audience was a man talking about being a veteran and another woman whose son has PTSD.
Running Time: 30 minutes.
BenchMARKS plays through July 21, 2013 at Goethe Institut – Main Stage, Gallery, 812 7th St, NW, in Washington, DC. For performance information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.