Here’s the newest dispatch from our vigilant theatre goers, Brittany & Katie. I really love musicals, but I just wasn’t able to join them for this one. That sounds sarcastic when you read it in your head. It’s not supposed to be sarcastic, I really do love musicals. Seriously. Anyway, here’s their report:
We love seeing and supporting new theatre. Especially new works premiering in the Bay Area. One performance space that’s full of innovation is Z Space, a beautiful hub for artists and audiences on Florida Street in the Mission. We were pumped to see their latest world premiere, Hundred Days, “A Folk Rock Odyssey about Love, Life, and Loss”. We were excited for a rockin’ evening of Drama Talk & Drinks.
Katie: The music was amazing, but but the story was lacking! But dammit they were talented musicians and amazing singers.
Brittany: I would totally buy the CD to that musical.
B: Really cool music, it reminded me of Mumford and Sons or The Decemberists.
K: Yeah, or the Lumineers.
B: And it’s very different from almost any play I’ve seen. I guess it’s most similar to Tommy by the Who. Or maybe Tom Waits’ musical adaptation of Woyzeck. It’s got songs that you could hear on the radio, and not know that they’re part of a musical, and still enjoy them. The music definitely doesn’t have that “musical” sound to it, which is great. It’s very accessible, it breaks the mold of what you think a musical can be.
K: That’s why I was so excited about it. I love the idea of a musical that I can bring my non-musical theatre friends to.
B: Maybe I’m just a traditionalist though, but I liked that the second act was more like a traditional musical and not like a concert. I didn’t like the first act. They tried to make it like a concert, and that didn’t work for me. I think I get what they were going for, maybe you can bring in a new audience if it doesn’t feel like a play, but the story got lost for me in the first act. I loved the second act. Really cool staging, you got to see the couple living out their life together in 100 days, and you really got to see their beautiful story unfold.
K: Yeah, the first act was rocky. They were acting like they were in a band, and just performing a concert, and very artificially tying in their own story to the play. But It didn’t have the spontaneity of a concert, and all of the banter came off as very scripted and forced. The lead singer was even looking at her script! I loved some of the songs in the first act, but I didn’t care about the in-between commentary or even the acting. I didn’t think they were very believable.
B: It’s strange, because that was actually true. They really are married, and they really are in a band, but for some reason that felt so much more false than when they were just performing the play. I don’t understand why they felt it was necessary to shoehorn in the conceit of an artificial concert. It was so much stronger when they were just telling us the story and letting the play evolve. They were great performers, but maybe not the strongest actors.
K: I don’t know why they had to try to tie their real-life story into the story of the play either. I don’t think it added anything, and it made it feel fake. If this play goes on to be performed elsewhere, by other groups, that’s not going to translate.
B: If the second act had continued to be staged as a concert, I would not tell people to go, but the second act was strong enough, to make it totally worth going. The lighting was amazing, the sands of time design element was really neat, and there was something very sad and sweet about the story they developed in the second act.
K: Agreed. It’s worth it just to see the band. That lead woman’s voice (Abigail Bengson) was RIDICULOUS. I would go to their concert in a second. In the first act the story was lost, and that made it not as strong a play, but still very well done and entertaining.
B: It’s a new play too, and an interesting concept, so I’m sure it will evolve. I had a great time, but there are just some kinks. Their voices were insane, the songs were cool, the staging was cool, but it could still be better. Maybe they’ll take the concert thing further and stage it properly like a concert, or they’ll make the first act fit more stylistically with the second act which was beautiful.
K: I enjoyed myself, it just needs some more development. I liked that it moved, and it left me wanting more. This could be such an amazing piece with just a few changes.
The Verdict: Go see it! The Bengson’s, the band and couple behind this play, are incredibly talented musicians. It’s a fun night of very good music, with some really beautiful lighting and staging to go along with it. Tickets range from $100 for a seat front and center on the couch, to $15 for a seat further back. It’s a loud and visually vibrant performance, so no matter where you sit you’ll have a good time.
The Drama Talk: Hundred Days is unlike most musicals. It feels like a cross between the most epic story time ever and a concert. Although some of the more concert-like elements felt forced, the engaging performances, and a strong second act made this show worth it. The songs could stand alone, and the voices of all the performers made the soulful music come alive. The story is sad, and simple, and sweet, and beautifully told by this talented cast.
The Drinks: They have a great bar at Z Space, and it’s fun to look around their gallery, so since it was a school night we got lazy and just had drinks at the venue. Brittany got a Gin and Tonic, and Katie got Champagne in a can, because that’s the kind of girl she is.
Hundred Days runs through April 6, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar for $10 but if those sell out, you can always get tickets through the Z Space website.