Two people sit back-to-back in wooden chairs center. In the background, four other people (three with musical instruments) stand playing, while one of them approaches the seated couple.
Hundred Days with Kokandy Productions Credit: Evan Hanover

There are shows that break a writer’s heart, and brain. This is one of those shows—openhearted, genre-defying, utterly overwhelming, glorious to watch but confounding to write about. (My hard drive is littered with drafts of this short review.) Structured as a live concert, with bits of storytelling woven in (the songs are by Abigail Nessen-Bengson and Shaun Bengson, who write and perform under the name The Bengsons, and the book by the Bengsons and playwright Sarah Gancher), Hundred Days recounts the tumultuous first three weeks in the relationship of Abigail and Shaun, a relationship that includes both collaboration—they wrote their first song the first day they met—and a quirky romance/marriage. Remarkably, the Bengsons and Gancher manage, in their high-octane show, to be by turns sweet and cynical, tender and tough, jaded and jejune, not to mention in-your-face aggressive and achingly vulnerable. 

Hundred Days
Through 1/9: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 5 PM, Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division,, $38, $30 students/seniors, limited $15 tickets students/artists each show.

The Bengsons starred in the original iterations of this show, which premiered in San Francisco in 2014 and later moved to New York. In this iteration, directed by Lucky Stiff, the Bengsons are played by Emilie Modaff (Abigail) and Royen Kent and Alec Phan, who alternate as Shaun (Phan played Shaun the night I saw the show), and their performances are heartbreakingly beautiful. Step by step, we watch these two damaged but worthy souls move from tentative first meetings (at one point in a soulful soliloquy, Shaun sings, “How can you bear to let someone, let someone love you?”) through the first floods of full-throated ecstasy (“I am a universe / I’m your man”) to the softly spoken acceptance that this will not be just a hundred-day thing.