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Stage Review: 'Triplicity' one-act plays deal with single theme of loneliness

Wednesday, October 27, 1999

By John Hayes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Hold your scathing letters to the editor for a more worthy subject. There was no duplicity in "Triplicity," Promethea Theatre Company's program of two, instead of three, one-act plays at the Pitt Studio Theater. Innocently enough, one work that was dropped from the program on short notice is to be rescheduled by the fledgling production company, which focuses on plays written by women or that challenge female stereotypes.

    "Triplicity: An Evening of One-Acts"

Where: Studio Theater, Cathedral of Learning, Oakland.

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Through Nov. 7.

Tickets: $10; 412-243-4999.


Remaining in "Triplicity" are two stories about a similar subject that couldn't be told more differently. The subject is loneliness. While the first Pittsburgh playwright isolates characters from each other, the second throws them together and forces them to interact.

In "Hennessey Street," four women of varying ages and backgrounds explain how their lives have been affected by the changes slowly overtaking their New York City block. Playwright Rebecca Redshaw, a frequent contributor to the Post-Gazette, breaks the fourth wall by going directly to the crowd while denying her characters substantive interaction with each other.

Under the direction of Dawn Naser, Evelyn Tunie plays the most interesting character, an elderly woman who was born "in that apartment right up there," lived with her husband in "my own home" and plans to die in her little corner of the city. Throughout most of the play, Tunie's character sits on a park bench talking to the audience. Behind her on various stoops and stairs sit aging actress Jesse (Margie Stewart), tomboy Denise (Laura Romeo) and lonely wife Kay (Sara Gaille). Separately they talk of friends, memories and dreams for the future, but they never talk to each other.

In some ways, Redshaw's script suffers from this lack of interaction and, in fact, of any action at all. Yet she may be making a larger point about the characters' lack of contact. If the neighbors actually spoke to each other, maybe they wouldn't be so lonely.

Playwright Scott C. Sickles chooses another tack in "Sarcophagus," a reprise of a play that debuted two years ago at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. Barb Sawatis directs Lucia Metrailler and Jarrod Fry in a light, romantic comedy about two masked guests hiding from the crowd at an elegant costume ball.

Metrailler is Cleopatra, or at least her character wishes she were, instead of an aging screen actress who came to the party with plans of seducing an important director to secure a role. To her horror, she found the director escorted by a budding ingenue who had the same idea. Ashamed, embarrassed and fearing her career may be over, Cleopatra ducks into the powder room to chastise her reflection in the mirror.

At the same time, a shy, young casting assistant masked as Robin Hood seeks refuge from the horde of beautiful actresses fawning over him because they wrongly think he might be someone important.

Cleo is in desperate need of male attention, but Robin is too insecure to deliver. Sickles weaves a snug little story filled with nuance, clever contradiction and hope that the lonely party guests might live happily ever after. Fry squeezes myriad emotions into a short 25 minutes. Metrailler shows less range.

A prolific CMU playwriting grad, Sickles lives in New York, where he has had two recent readings. A reading of his first full-length musical is scheduled there next month. Promethea is planning a staged reading of another play by Redshaw.

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