40+ Stage Company is proud to present “Whittlers’ Bench” by David Ratcliffe, a Winston-Salem native and the second Triad Area playwright to showcase his work on our stage this season. With pocket knives instead of cell phones and a bench in the park instead of Facebook, the retired dudes of the community socialize in person every day the weather is good. This routine is changed when Yancey Hargrove (Vince Hancock), a member of their group has died, and the open question is why Curtis McElroy (Ralph Shaw), Yancey’s best friend, did not attend the funeral. Curtis sums up a lengthy rationalization for his absence by saying, “Damn you Yancey Hargrove! You weren’t supposed to die and leave me here to sit on this bench by myself.”
The quality of the friendships around the bench is measured in Curtis’ reply. Sidelined finally from the fray of getting on with a job, raising kids, or volunteering in the community, they have each other, their stories and perhaps a few “if only” fantasies. There’s little any of them can do to sway events in their small town. Or is there?
When the ghost of Yancey returns with news of a wrong-doing, the gang – Ben Ford (Roberts Bass), Frank Tyson (Mark March) and Vernon Cunningham (Glenn Otterbacher) comes together and says to hell with the constraints that nature has imposed upon them in their later years. They want to do something to overcome the injustice being endured by Curtis’ granddaughter Amanda (Britt Connino-Stone). But what? Will the gang find a way or simply give their neighbors something else to shake their heads about. Amanda’s husband Nate Cummins (Brian Joyce) and waitress Darlene Boyd (Kathy Glendenning) complete the cast in this heartwarming story to which playwright Ratcliffe provides a stunning conclusion.
Performances November 11, 12, 18, and 19 at 7:30 pm with matinees November 13 and 20. Talk-back with the cast and playwright following the November 13 matinee.
Tickets available online at https://www.intothearts.org/campus-events/whittlers-bench, by phone at (336)-747-1414, or at the door.
Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts
251 North Spruce Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101