Intimate Settings and Powerful Performance in Benington’s ‘PSYCHOPOMP’


Actors Tyler Fox and Paul Kiernan in “PSYCHOPOMP.” (Courtesy Roger Benington)

By Sara Gillett, Arts Writer


“PSYCHOPOMP,” an incredible performance written and directed by a former Salt Lake City resident Roger Benington, is an intimate and enlightening experience that brings to light the recent and continuing descent of white male privilege. The play takes place in Salt Lake City itself during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and shows the instability that followed.

The venue which Benington chose is an old Mormon church, setting the stage against religious history in one small room. The closeness of the actors — Tyler Fox and Paul Kiernan — and the small crowd size only elevated the performance. Not only was attending the show a new and exciting experience for theatre in Salt Lake after a return from lockdown, but it allowed me to see and feel everything that took place. I felt close to the characters and their struggles.

Differences in Opinion

“PSYCHOPOMP” is an incredibly innovative and artistic expression of prominent social issues, bringing to light recent changes in discussing systemic racism as well as political differences, through the perspectives of fathers and sons.

I admire the way that Benington as playwright discussed religion. I first latched on to it in seeing the play’s advertisements that drew attention to the “Mormon formula” at the center of the core relationships — “mission, marriage, family.” Identifying these values outright sets the stage for the characters’ behaviors that challenge that norm, resulting in an eventual clash of religion and identity.

“PSYCHOPOMP” doesn’t put down religiosity, but calls on its characters and audiences to think about their personal beliefs. 

Performances for People

For the past year and a half, the industry of theatre has been on hold. Sitting in a crowded room surrounded by other people is the very thing we have been told to avoid. However, the unique and enlightening experience of watching artists do what they love is like no other, and all who appreciate that cannot wait for the arts to return to normal. 

“PSYCHOPOMP” is on the front end of these returning performances, and it was an absolute joy to be able to attend. Not only was it incredible to be able to experience theater again, but my safety was always upheld, and I never felt at risk. The small and intimate performance allowed for a safe space to engage with a powerful work like Benington’s, and I would tell anyone to attend it before it closes. 


“PSYCHOPOMP” runs through Sept. 19 and tickets can be found here or on the play’s website.


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