by Beki Pineda

THE COVID WIFE – Written by Suzanne Nepi; Directed by Neil Truglio. Produced by Benchmark Theatre Company (1560 Teller, Lakewood) through December 10. Tickets available at 303-519-9059 or benchmarktheatre.com.

We’ve all – everyone of us – had a personal experience with Covid. Our friends, our family, ourselves have all either had a mild case, one that put you down for a couple of days . . . or the horrific ordeal of hospitalization or trying to keep a loved one get through it. Suzanne Nepi – local actress and now playwright – had one of the latter in watching her husband struggle to breathe and fight for his life.  For weeks their only communication was through the medical personnel and the occasional zoom call.

Suzanne found her inner badass to battle for her husband. She became his advocate, his cheerleader, his coach, his banshee, even taking on Trump supporters protesting masks outside the hospital. She was his lifeline, his channel to the higher powers, his researcher into new treatments, the voice that sang him to sleep at night. Her willingness to live through the ordeal night after performance night takes her audience inside the experience in the first person.

Accompanying Suzanne on this month’s long journey is Tanis Joaquin Gonzales as the various medical personnel, media interviewers and counselors that became part of the story. Simply by changing scrubs or adding a jacket, he became a new character. Although it is Suzanne and Mark’s story, Tanis’ contribution in telling it is invaluable.

Authenticity was added by the videos of the zoom calls Suzanne and Mark were able to share . . . even when he couldn’t verbalize his fears. The production was enhanced by the high-tech set involving monitors that displayed wedding movies and other parts of their married life together. And finally, Mark’s triumphant wheelchair trip down the hospital corridors to the outside. So don’t go expecting a sad ending.

Lessons were learned that are shared; lives were saved as witnessed by the presence of a very much alive and kicking Mark Nepi in the audience. A riveting script and performance by Suzanne who shows her love for her husband and her determination to show her audience the truth about this disease.

A WOW factor of 8.75!!

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