Hundred Days

By Andrew Andrews

The Bengsons jam out during their performance of Hundred Days at New York City’s Public Theater

Over the years, plenty of bands have been known to take their audience on a "musical journey," telling a story with a series of songs played one right after the other, spelling out the plot from beginning to middle to end. Some of the stories are timeless: Pink Floyd’s The Wall, for example, is still making the rounds more than three decades after its release, thanks to cover bands catering to aging fans desperate to reconnect with their emotional youth. But there’s a modern story that’s as ingenious today as Roger Waters’ project was in its time, and you can catch it now at The Public long before it becomes passé.

That show is Hundred Days, part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar 2017 festival. The band is The Bengsons, headed by the real life husband and wife team of Abigail and Shaun Bengson, with Colette Alexander, Geneva Harrison, Jo Lampert and Reggie D. White rounding out the ensemble. And the story—let’s not forget this is a story—is the heartwarming tale of the Bengson’s real-life romance.

The journey begins with the opening song: Shaun and Abigail recounting their wedding vows. Then we get the back story: Abigail’s recurring dream about meeting her one true love and immediately losing him to a terrible disease. And then, for the rest of the performance, we learn all of the ways in which the nightmare comes to fruition. And all of the ways that it doesn’t. And all of the ways that it doesn’t, yet sorta does.

If that sounds complicated, well, it is. This is a story about love, and fear, and what it’s like to be a couple of codependent introverts. But ultimately, it’s a fable with a moral that’s been preached again and again: make the most of the time you have, because you never know when the plug is going to be pulled. Which is not to say that this show is too cliché: on the contrary, this familiar message is delivered with a daring, original spin. With a folk-music baseline that dips from time-to-time into neo-soul, trip hop and even a hint of dub step, The Bengsons takes us on a musical journey like none you’ve experienced before.

This month, pass up that suburban nostalgia tour and head to The Public for Hundred Days instead, for new inspiration to treasure each moment like it’s your last. Because one day, after all, it will be—and you never really know when that is. 4

Andrew Andrews attended Hundred Days at The Public Theater in Manhattan on Thursday, January 5, 2017 @ 8:00pm to write this review.