17th May 2017
Ifield Barn Theatre
Type of Production
Margaret Graham/Janine Robins
Author: Lance Milton
Benches is an original piece adapted by Margaret Graham from a manuscript she was left by her father Harold Goodwin and it is in fact a semi-autobiographical musing by the latter. The concept is wonderful and revolves around the notion that when we die we have the choice and ability to remain and watch over our loved ones and at the same time assume a timeless pose of the prime self-state we most enjoyed when alive.
Richard Townley, portrayed here by Marc Thomson, is the focal point of the story, which is based around three departed souls enjoying posthumous ownership of their own memorial benches on the seafront in Sussex. Richard is an conscientious objector from the Great War who went into battle unarmed as a medic and returned a hero. In the afterlife he is joined by fellow adjacent 'benchers' in the form of a young biker Mark, Brilliantly, delivered by Connor Hope and a 1950s grandmother Flo, warmly portrayed by Christine Linden-Smith.
Across two acts we hear their back stories as well as meeting a wide assortment of 'the living' who in the main are just fleeting cameos and are way too numerous to list numbering twenty-five, however all nicely delivering commitment to the piece.
The set, lighting and overall technical support were all simple but effective and left the necessary space for the story and characters to develop. Margaret and the whole company should be proud of a very engaging and entertaining production which I think Harold would have enjoyed watching as much as we, the audience, did.