Reviews and recognition
Reviews for The Arsonists by Jacqueline Goldfinger
June 22 - July 21, 2018
"In this, its second production...Benchmark has mounted a fine exploration of a fascinating text by a playwright worth following."
-Juliet Whitman, Westword (read full review)
"The pacing and understanding of the story is where Weitz ignites the production. He took this seemingly short and brief play and found the moments that needed to breathe and let this stellar cast hold on to them."
-Avery Anderson, The Nightly Met (read full review)
"Michael Morgan and Rebekah Goldberg as the family unit are devastating in their roles. Michael creates a rough-hewn but loving parent. His agony as the wounded father made everyone in the audience want to comfort him. Rebekah is a new actor to Denver, having recently moved into the theatre community from Florida. Her tough, self-sufficient but devastated daughter provides not only a riveting evening, but a promise of things to come."
-Beki Pineda, GetBoulder.com (read full review)
Reviews for A Kid Like Jake by Daniel Pearle
February 16 - March 24, 2018
Marlowe's Musings- A KID LIKE JAKE
Check out Eden Lane's interview with Rachel Rogers, Director Warren Sherrill, and cast member Adrian Egolf.
Denver Life Magazine Q&A: Benchmark Theatre Co-Founder Rachel Rogers on the New Season
2017 True West Award: Six set-sational set designs- Christopher Waller, Smokefall
2017 True West Award: Chris Kendall- Smokefall
Westword: The Best Theater Trends, Shows and Performances of 2017- Best new company
Reviews for Smokefall by Noah Haidle
December 1 - 23, 2017
Reviews for The Nether by Jennifer Haley
March 31 - April 23, 2017
Patrick Dorn REVIEW: Benchmark Theatre’s futuristic ‘The Nether’ weighs the pros and cons of virtual reality realms for pedophiles and child killers, through April 23 at Buntport Theatre
APRIL 7, 2017
Benchmark Theatre launches onto the Denver theatre scene with Jennifer Haley’s fascinating, shocking, morally complex, and tastefully written The Nether, a futuristic, possibly prophetic, and deeply disturbing drama about virtual reality and those who choose to live vicariously on the internet. Brilliantly directed by Rachel Bouchard, the drama explores the inevitable perfection of virtual reality playgrounds and the kinds of people who inhabit them.
In a not-too-distant, high-tech dystopian future, the world has lost touch with nature, and people are living entire fantasy lives on the internet, now called “The Nether.” In these virtual reality playgrounds, people look any way they wish, conduct real business in virtual offices, attend school, and also act out their most depraved fantasies and compulsions. Some grow so addicted they become “shades,” abandoning the real world, putting their bodies on life support, and plugging permanently into The Nether.
Morris (Haley Johnson) is a thought-police officer, investigating The Haven, a beautiful and alluring virtual reality realm in which customers are invited to have sex with children and then chop them up with an axe. Morris finds and interrogates the site’s creator Sims (Marc Stith) and one of his customers (Jim Hunt), while first-timer Woodnut (Cameron Varner) gradually embraces The Haven’s scenario with a virtual character, nine-year-old Iris (Ella Madison).
This is VERY MATURE subject matter. If you appreciate trigger warnings, especially relating to child rape and murder (implied rather than shown), consider yourself forewarned.
If you are able to tough it out, be prepared for a rigorously dramatic and intellectual examination of the consequences of behavior in a world that seemingly has no consequences. Can a person be prosecuted for what he does in an imaginary world? For some, the consequence of losing their login, and thus their alternate identity, is worse than death. Might it be safer for real children if incurable pedophiles and child murderers could freely express their twisted fantasies privately online? And what of the adults who choose to “play” the victimized children, subjecting themselves to these predators over and over again, for love and money?
Issues of online confidentiality, privacy, and anonymity become paramount, along with the ramifications of leading a double life.
Sixth grader Ella Madison is a wonder as Iris, the virtual little girl with the soul of an adult. I made a point of talking with her (and her parents) after the show, and was relieved to see that she is taking the disturbing role in stride. I had no worries at all for the rest of the cast, most of whom are leading actors in productions all over town.
Most of all, I appreciated the sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and care Bouchard brought to the direction of the show, which is surprisingly lovely to look at, thanks to Christopher M. Waller’s soothing projections and video design. This goes way beyond simply staging scenes for dramatic effect. Bouchard has taken the difficult material to heart, grappled with every possible moral implication, and then encourages us to do the same.
The Nether, which runs 90 minutes without intermission, plays through Sunday, April 23, with performances Thursday-Saturday evenings at 8 pm and Sunday evenings at 6 pm. Tickets are $30 for general admission and $20 for students/seniors/military. The company is partnering with Buntport Theatre and will be utilizing their venue for the run of the show at 717 Lipan Street in Denver. Visit www.benchmarktheatre.com to purchase tickets and send any inquiries to email@example.com.