Hundred Days – La Jolla Playhouse

The set up: real life married couple Abigail and Shaun Bengson tell the story of their relationship in song. This structure was also effective in Once, and is a bit of a tightrope to traverse successfully. At the La Jolla Playhouse, the Bengsons command the stage with aplomb, and deliver an affecting performance.

The title of the musical refers to how the couple would live their lives together if they only had that amount of time alive. The compression and elasticity of time is an intriguing topic (recently explored successfully by Simon Garfield in his book Timekeepers).

The songs created by the Bengsons convey the mixtures of emotion involved in exploring the premise. The couple also created the book, with Sarah Gancher, which speeds the musical through a crisp intermission-less 75 minutes.

The cast is comprised of the band performing the Bengson’s autobiographical songs: Ashley Baier (drums/percussion), El Beh (cello), Barrie Lobo McLain (vocals/accordion/guitar) and Reggie D. White (vocals/keys), last seen at the Playhouse in The Last Tiger in Haiti. Director Anne Kaufman understandably positions our lead couple in front: Abigail Bengson (vocals/guitar/floor tom) and Shaun Bengson (vocals/guitar/keys).

The cast of La Jolla Playhouse’s production of Hundred Days, book by The Bengsons and Sarah Gancher, music and lyrics by The Bengsons, directed by Anne Kauffman, running Sept 22 – Oct 21; photo by Jim Carmody.

Abigail and Shaun Bengson; photo by Jim Carmody.

With clever between song patter, mostly delivered by Abigail, the songs move through several styles and shape the arc of their relationship. I particularly liked “Lift Me” and “The Drop.” The latter is a sonic departure from most of the other songs, weaving in electronica elements. The title song solidly anchors the production.

Kudos also to scenic and lighting wizards Kris Stone and Andrew Hungerford.

Already dubbed a Critic’s Pick by The New York Times, the play is a delight on the left coast as well.

 

 

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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