Love Triangles Span a Century at RLTP

Jon Elston’s Elliptical, the highlight of Scott Behrend’s concept production, Triangles, is now playing at the Road Less Traveled Theater in Buffalo’s theatre district.

Elliptical is a fast-paced journey thorough the lives of three twenty-something friends who began their relationship in high school.

The dynamic, ever-reconfiguring friendship between Ches (Todd Benzin), Michelle (Bonnie Jean Taylor) and Camille (Kelly Meg Brennan) begins during high school drama club. Here the awkward Ches has finally found his home away from the jocks and popular kids. Lifelong friends Michelle and Camille compete for roles and boys, with Camille the usual victor.

The relationship takes unexpected twists and turns over the years that are alternatively intriguing, funny and cringe-worthy.

Triangle opens with the haunting guitar chords of Buffalo’s local musician, Alan Kryszak from behind the dark scrim. The actors enter through three triangular openings recite a series of monologues that tie the trilogy together. This triangle theme is repeated throughout the show.

The first one act play is The Stronger by August Strindberg set in the late nineteenth century. Lisa Virtanen plays Madame X, who alternately harangues and cajoles Madame Y (Kristen Tripp-Kelley) who remains stubbornly silent. Madame Y boasts about winning her husband away from X, but who has struck a better bargain?

Emanuel Fried’s Triangle follows, a fifties era piece with Tripp-Kelley as Mary Ann, the other woman, and Vitrano as Jackie, the long-suffering wife. Mary Ann tries to convince the wife she should give over her husband and return to New York. Like Tripp-Kelley in the previous sketch, Vitrano frequently says more with stony glares and rolling eyes than her pacing co-star does with rambling monologues.

In both plays the third character is the conspicuously absent husband.

Jon Elston’s contemporary Elliptical closes the trilogy.

The grouping of the three plays was the brainchild of Director, Scott Behrend. According to Elston, “Scott gets the credit for conceiving of the trilogy. Manny wrote Triangle as a response to The Stronger, and Scott suggested a third, modern piece to give the evening its third angle.”

The show continues through December 7th. See www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org or call (716) 683-1260 for more information.

Originally appeared in buffalo.com

Buffalo Quickies Titillates Alleyway Audience

Buffalo Quickies 2009 is a one-act play festival presented by Alleyway Theatre. Director Joyce Stilson has assembled this annual show for 18 years.

This year’s festival, billed as “The Sex Edition,” included one-act performances mostly about relationships. Stories ranged from Jay C. Rehak’s “Marinated Steaks and Socks” about marital communication problems between Francine (Sheila Connors) and John (Christopher S. Parada) referred by therapist Dr. Watts (Louise Reger) to Alex Broun’s “Saturday Night Chippewa, Sunday Morning Lackawanna” on the perils of an alcohol- laced one night stand. Michael Seitz and Tammy Reger played the mismatched pair.

“The selection of pieces is extremely difficult,” said Stilson, “because there are so many factors: casting, content, set, and of course if it’s any good and how it relates to the rest of the evening.”

This is the fourth year with a unifying theme. Most years the festival has been an eclectic mix. Previous themes have been love, theatre and Greek Mythology.

The one-acts transitioned seamlessly into one another, the actors moving their own props and set pieces, sometimes changing costume right on stage. The set itself was a plain black box. Scenes were set with chairs and other moveable pieces.

The evening moved quickly, fitting 10 plays into 90 minutes. The actors were well-utilized – Carlton Frankin played everything from a frustrated suitor to a death row inmate equally well. Seitz was a charismatic presence when he stepped on stage and Parada always provided a laugh.

The climax of the evening was “Jump!” by George J Bryjak, the 2008 Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition One Act Winner. It was about a young philosophy student (Seitz) and his no-nonsense neighbor (Louise Reger). The philosopher was experiencing existential depression (ED) and was interrupted while attempting to jump from the roof. The laundry hanging neighbor pressed him to make a decision, but he was unmoved until the arrival of a Birkenstock-clad flash poet (Sheila Connors) who shared her art with him.

Next appearing at Alleyway Theatre is Hell Hole Honeys, a world premiere musical, directed by Todd Warfield. Show dates are April 23 through May 9. See http://www.alleyway.com for information or tickets.

Originally appeared in buffalo.com