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Robert Abrams
Theater Reviews

The Friday Bench - a play by Mario Fratti

by Robert Abrams
July 15, 2007
The Friday Bench can be found in "Unpredictable Plays", a collection of 28 plays by Mario Fratti.
"Unpredictable Plays" was published in 2007 by The New York Theatre Experience, on the web at www.nyte.org.

An Interview with Mario Fratti by Roberta Zlokower
A review of Nine, one of Mario Fratti's plays.
A review of The Colonel's Wife, one of Mario Fratti's plays.
The Friday Bench is a short play, only sixteen pages, but it is packed with potential. The characters unfold as the play progresses. All is not what it seems to be. About two thirds of the way through, the reader thinks he or she knows what is really going on, but then even more is revealed. Martin Denton, in the introduction to the volume of Mario Fratti's plays, said that Mr. Fratti "is the master of the surprise ending." I could not agree more.

I think that The Friday Bench would make an excellent play for theatre students to perform. The play gives enough detail about the characters to give the actors material to work with, but leaves enough unsaid so that actors can learn how to develop their own backstory for their character, which is an important acting skill.

The play, while a tight and coherent whole as written, also leaves the reader wanting more. How did the characters first meet? Why are they so dependent on each other? What might happen next? There is more than enough of interest in these sixteen pages for Mr. Fratti to spin it out into a full length play. He could probably write two acts and have his audience enthralled the entire time.

There is another possible use of this short play. The play deals with relationships, their consequences and the ethical issues that are intertwined with those relationships. Thus, this play might make a good presentation in a school setting where it could be used as a springboard for intelligent discussion of difficult issues.

Since I am a dancer, I would like to suggest one more possibility. One of the limits of dance is that it often has difficulty telling detailed stories. Dance sometimes works best at giving interpretations when one already knows the story. The Friday Bench is a work that gives rise to interpretations of what was seen. One might present the play as is, and then follow it with dance interpretations of each of the characters. Some of the more experimental modern dance companies have been incorporating spoken word into their dance pieces lately, so the time might be right to try this sort of experiment that would bring together two of the arts.

Whatever purpose you might find for the play, The Friday Bench is worth a read.
Mario Fratti

Mario Fratti

Photo © & courtesy of Mario Fratti

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