Bench at the Edge by Luigi Jannuzzi provides the audience with an interesting perspective on how things might look after somebody has attempted to commit suicide. From the long-standing patients kept alive on life support machines and now stuck in an afterlife limbo, to those hovering unconsciously between two worlds as they contemplate suicide to the bullets who simply decide then and there to run and jump thus ending it all there and then.
Actor number one (Meg Lake) waits on the bench in limbo by the edge of the abyss. Connected to the hospital machines which are physically represented by lengths of string attached to woollen arm gauntlets. It is never explained how or why she is in hospital. Although I wondered by her arms if she had slashed her wrists, this is only my interpretation of her suicide attempt though.
As you approach the Bench at the Edge where is there left to go next? Actor number two (Harriet Main) explodes onto the stage angry and hurt desperately to find the edge and leave all the pain that is consuming her behind and end it all.
The dialogue between the two actors explores their past lives in sketches of detail, the other people who have passed by the bench and then go onto to discussing their futures.
Cellist Samuel Creer adds an eerie twist to the performance as he creates the sounds effects and backing music to the play. Setting the tone for the vast majority of the scenes.
Tackling mental health and suicide is never an easy topic in theatre. However, Jannuzzi has captured the fragility of the human mind with care and consideration through this very moving and thought to provoke play.
Keeping the cast all nameless in a play of this nature stops any form of attachment to any the characters. It’s harder to relate to someone who is anonymous. Although you can’t help but feel empathy towards them as their limbo in both worlds becomes difficult for them.
Directed by Kasia Różycki Bench on the Edge combines a dark world into suicides with some light tasteful comedy moments, there’s nothing funny about the topic but the way in which the characters look at the living through comedy lenses the audience certainly benefit from some light relief.