According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Rob Benson in Borderline

Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

Talking about mental health is a taboo amongst men. Admitting to having mental health problems is even worse. In Borderline, Rob Benson draws from the experiences of his friends to openly discuss the nature of mental illness from the obvious to the obscure. Unlike the title, the show is not limited to borderline personality disorder. Rather, Borderline is about bpd, schizophrenia, and other nameless behaviors that suggest a disconnection in brain function. Instead of using props and a set, Benson uses sharp lighting and sound cues to sculpt his story and “episodes,” or breakdowns. And it's a good thing, too, because the material, as nebulous as some of the disorders themselves, is sometimes difficult to understand.

Alternating between free verse and straight narrative, Benson forms a semi-hypothesis about the link between ecstasy (the drug) and mental illness. That theory may not help those who are already “disturbed,” but it may just give everyone else food for thought. Although there's nothing cuddly or predictable about Benson's performance, it is remarkably passionate as he transforms from a psych-ward patient to a normally functioning adult. He plays his looks, too: he points out that we don't expect a “young, intelligent, handsome and good-looking” man to be mentally ill, which makes this actor, who looks like he’s out of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, a constant surprise on a sensitive topic.

Borderline (Running time: 50 minutes)
Manhattan Theatre Source (177 MacDougal Street, between 8th and Waverly Place)
Tickets: $15.
8/28 @ 9:15 PM

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