I think most of us can remember our first rated R movie viewing experience — it’s one of those coming-of-age milestones we all hit at some point. But what about your first R-rated theater experience? Those are a bit rarer to come by.  

Providing that experience is just one of the reasons to see “Blasted,” the searing new production at Lakewood’s Benchmark Theatre. Its mature and challenging storytelling provides a heartbreaking window into the harshness and inhumanity of war.  

“It’s the most aggressive and intense thing we’ve produced,” said Neil Truglio, Benchmark’s artistic director and director of the production. “We believe our audiences are brave and looking for challenges, so we had to ask ourselves if our company is as brave as we say we are.”  

“Blasted,” written by British playwright Sarah Kane, opens Friday, Oct. 13 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Benchmark Theatre, 1560 Teller St. in Lakewood. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. 

The cast features Jayce Johnson, Josh Levy and Hillary Wheelock as three people being irrevocably changed by the warzone they find themselves in. The play is Benchmark’s way of grappling with the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war and fits squarely into the season’s theme of “casualties.”  

“We always wonder why we don’t see plays like this more regularly, and I think it’s because this one digs into a lot of dark places,” Truglio said. “As artists we are always looking for new challenges and want to do the play that scares us.”  

The production required a couple new additions to the creative process — a military expert to help create credible soldiers and Amelia Morse, an intimacy coordinator. Both were able to help the actors create characters and scenarios that will feel real and visceral for the audience. 

“I always say, where else but Benchmark are you going to see something like this,” Truglio added. “Because we have this intimate space, we can take risks that others haven’t. If we’re going to put theater in a room like ours, we should really be exploring all edge of the form.”  

As is always the aim with anything Benchmark does, “Blasted” will undoubtedly spark conversation. And according to Truglio, that just means the company is doing its job. By tackling something as provocative as this show will also hopefully bring in new audience members. 

“As a company, we’re always looking at where the audience of the future is and how we can speak to them now,” he said. “Denver’s audiences are so capable and I don’t believe this show is too hard for anyone. We’re hoping they will take the risk and the challenge and be as brave as we know they are.”  

Visit www.benchmarktheatre.com/ for tickets and information.  

An immigrant story told through dance 

Dance is one of the best art forms for the blending of different styles and themes, and you’ll find a beautifully artful combination at Nava Dance Theatre’s production of “Rogue Gestures/Foreign Bodies.” The show will be at Northglenn’s Parsons Theatre, 1 E. Memorial Parkway, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7.  

According to provided information, the show explores American immigrant stories through Bharatanatyam dance. Specifically, it looks at South Asian immigrant women who arrived in the county in the wake of the 1965 Immigration and Nationally Act. Get tickets at https://bit.ly/NGARTSNAVAdanceRougeGestures

LSO goes all in on Beethoven at opening concert

The Lakewood Symphony Orchestra is gearing up for another year of top-notch classical music with its inaugural program, “All Beethoven All the Time,” which features two of the composer’s most dramatic works — the Violin Concerto in D major and the unforgettable Symphony No. 5. 

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway. Violinist Emily Switzer, a current member of the Minnesota Orchestra, will be joining the orchestra for the night.  

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is one of the classical music world’s most well-known works, which means hardcore classical fans and those with only a passing interest will be enraptured by the evening. Get tickets at www.lakewoodsymphony.org.  

Clarke’s Concert of the Week — The 1975 at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre 

For my money, The 1975 are the most important band of the 2010s and if their run continues, that could hold true for the 20s as well. There’s just something about the way the group, lead by gossip lightning rod Matty Healy, blends alternative pop and electronics with confessional lyrics that get under into my mind and set up shop. Last year’s album, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language,” was one of their strongest yet. They don’t miss.  

The1975 will be performing at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. in Englewood, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7. They’ll be joined by Dora Jar for a night that will be entertaining above all things.  

Get tickets for this one at www.axs.com

Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.

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