Students explore PTSD in ‘The Death and Life of Larry Benson’

Mar 27, 2022

An intimate crowd watched Wareham High School students perform “The Death and Life of Larry Benson” on stage Saturday night as rain pounded outside the auditorium.

On stage, actors explored themes of PTSD and the ties of family bonds in the one-act play, which ran in just less than an hour. The plot revolves around the Benson family and their son Larry, who’s been missing for three years following his deployment in the Vietnam War. When they discover he’s bound to return, the mother and father — who have separated in the years since their son’s disappearance — wait for him in anticipation, along with their daughter. When a boy declaring himself Larry enters their home though, they don’t recognize him, and the mystery of who the soldier is swirls throughout the rest of the show.

Student director Gabriella Andrews said the show’s adult director, Candace Johansen, picked the show, though Andrews led the directing of the Wareham Viking Theatre Company.

Andrews, a senior, won an award for her directing of the emotional show at the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival, an annual statewide competition of one-act shows. Students Sage Kidder and James Pinkham, who played the mother and the “boy,” also won awards for their performances at the festival, Johansen said as the students took their final bows.

“I was proud of them,” Andrews said of the students’ performances.

This was Andrews’ third show that she’s directed.

The Wareham Viking Theatre Company’s next show will be the teen version of the musical “Heathers,” Johansen said. The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 20 and at noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 21.