Directed by Orion Jones
Written by Elan Zafir
Starring: Danielle Peterson & Elan Zafir
BEN & LUCILLE
"Don't believe the pop songs. I don't enjoy missing you."
COMEDY • CONTEMPORARY
long-dis·tance re·la·tion·ship noun — a romantic relationship between two people who yearn endlessly for each other while apart, then argue over small things when together. see also: in love.
a romantic fucking comedy between two people who yearn endlessly for each other while apart, then argue over small things when together.
"Elan Zafir’s script is funny, honest and challenging. In a matter of seconds Ben and Lucille flip from blissful celebration of their reunion to facing off in uncomfortable and aggressive arguments that they’ve had before...The action and dialogue clip along quickly but it’s the slower moments of reconciliation or decay that clue us in to the true nature of Ben and Lucille’s relationship. The humor grabs your attention but witnessing the characters struggling through the tougher bits is what sustains your interest. His performance as Ben is incredibly charming. He easily navigates his sharp, witty dialogue, bringing just the right amount of humor and compassion. "
Casey Bauer — DC Theatre Scene
"Classified as a contemporary comedy, this production of Ben & Lucille is hands down the absolute best 45 minutes you will spend at The Capital Fringe Festival in 2014. Playwright Elan Zafir has conjured up theatrical genius that is both modern and relevant and loaded with humorous moments amid a very real dramatic situation. His writing style is captivating; Zafir showcases his true knowledge of how to build layers of plateau steps into the script where escalations gently resolve themselves and just as things approach neutral another moment of conflict erupts between the characters. Nary a dull moment within these 45 minutes, the show moves quickly, its emotional intensity driving it to a stunning conclusion.
Relationships, in essence, are something that everyone can relate to. No relationship is perfect, everyone quarrels. And it is often the biggest issues that are the least discussed, masquerading as superfluous details. Zafir captures the epitome of these relationship trials and tribulations letting volumes of subtext erupt through what start out as petty arguments until they come to an explosive climax. His writing has a cadence to it that drives the action and the major dramatic question of “will Ben and Lucille survive?” making for a flawless pacing of the performance.
Zafir balances humor into the production; juxtaposing it against heavy moments of serious emotional conflict that often erupt from nowhere— as they often do in real life fights and heated disagreements between couples. His use of language is fluid, saying exactly what needs to be said to articulate both Ben’s point (also acted by Zafir) and Lucille’s (Danielle Peterson) without having too few or too many words. Director Orion D. Jones steps in to really turn up the heat in moments of extreme disagreement, having the characters shouting their lines over one another simultaneously; replicating fights in real life.
The story itself is fresh; not just your average fight between a couple. It’s unique in its essence while being just unattached enough to anything extremely specific so that everyone can relate to it. The characters are realistic, authentic, and genuine. The problems are real, believable, and true; and we’ve all experienced them, even if not at this caliber, at one time or another in our relationships with friends, with lovers, with significant others. Zafir’s writing is the best being showcased at Fringe this season.
Of over 100 shows at the festival this year, it would be inexcusable to miss this brilliance in all its radiant resplendence. Real life, truly captured by a burgeoning and clever playwright who understands dramatic tension, plot construction, character creation and overall how to compose a piece of theatre. It’s an exceptional work not to be missed."
Amanda Gunther— DC Metro Theatre Arts
Ben and Lucille were waiting for their relationship to end, but I wasn’t.
In a two-character show that is basically an hour-long conversation, I’ll admit that I was afraid of getting bored. But it’s hard to say which was stronger—playwright and co-star Elan Zafir’s writing or his performance.
The minute Zafir stepped on stage, he became addictive to watch, easing into his role in a way that made you forget he was playing one. The dialogue was witty, sure, but it was also real and even a little awkward, sounding spontaneous to feel like life.
While a couple of moments did feel stiff or implausible, overall, Zafir and his other half, Danielle Peterson, delivered the kind of authentic performance that caused one audience member to audibly—read: loudly—whisper to her boyfriend/spouse/partner, “They sound just like us!”
After the show, a friend and I grabbed a few margaritas and debated who we thought was more at fault.
“She’s a bitch,” my friend said.
“Well, she was right,” I said.
And that’s what Ben & Lucille leaves you with: the uncomfortable knowledge that it’s hard to place blame in a relationship. And just when you think there’s no way two people can survive what just happened, there they go—unbelievably, resolutely, hopefully—again.
See it if: You crave strong acting, believable dialogue, and a captivating narrative.
Skip it if: Skip it? Why would you do that?