The Death and Life of Larry Benson: A Review of the Fall Play


Joseph Barton (Sam Benson)

David Sanders, Writer

Bryanna Zimmerman (Jessie Benson)

The Death and Life of Larry Benson is a gripping and emotional story about the family of the titular character, Larry Benson, as they deal with the fact that their son is MIA until one day, a stranger claiming to be Larry Benson, shows up at their door. The Razorback Theater Company pulls off the difficult story beautifully with an extremely talented cast who holds the entire performance together.

Going into the play, one could be weary about the fact that they haven’t heard about the show before, but as soon as it starts you know that you’re in good hands. The credit for this goes to Arkansas High’s new Director of Drama, Mr. Lohse, who clearly knows how to pick a good story that will keep the audience engaged.

The story of The Death and Life of Larry Benson was one that was easy to fall into. The stranger (James Hodges) that comes to the family’s door claiming that he is Larry Benson, makes the audience guess every second, “Who exactly is this man?” The main reason this was pulled off was because of the stunning cast. The family’s frustrated and sometimes aggressive father, Sam Benson,  was played by Joseph Barton. Although this was an intense character for a young actor, Barton pulled it off beautifully. Harley Betts (Freda Benson) also had to portray a complex character, as she played the struggling mother of a soldier who was MIA. Betts pulled it off however, while commanding the attention of the audience every second she was on-stage. James Hodges (The Stranger) also deserves recognition for his work here. The Stranger is such a mysterious character, and with Hodge’s charismatic performance, it is quite difficult to figure out if you should root for or against the man.

Kyra Tyous (Grace Wilkey)

Although there were a few missed sound cues and actors stumbling on a few of their lines, these were minor flaws. This doesn’t take away from the story and overall quality, but it was something that could take someone out of the moment.

Overall, The Death and Life of Larry Benson is an improvement from previous school plays thanks to the emotional story and the phenomenal acting, with Mr. Lohse proving that he will have The Razorback Theater Company in good hands for (hopefully) a long time.

You can still buy tickets to show online at with shows on Saturday, October 28th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 29th at 2:00 p.m.