Bob Goepfert Reviews "Bermuda Avenue Triangle"

Dec 5, 2013

LATHAM – Sometimes, even in December, the most sentimental among us get tired of shows that are holiday oriented. With “Bermuda Avenue Triangle,” Curtain Call Theatre in Latham is offering the ultimate in alternative holiday scheduling.

Most holiday shows are sweet, tender and offer a message of love and kindness.   “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” is a play filled with disagreeable characters who are crass and almost impossible to like. 

The play which run through December 29, might be subtitled “Seniors Acting Badly.”  Fannie Saperstein and Tess La Ruffa are widows who are about seventy years old.  Their daughters purchased a condo for them in the hope the two lonely women will benefit from a change of environment.

When the play starts, the two friends have just moved into the Bermuda Avenue apartments in Las Vegas to start a new life and are complaining about the living conditions and pointing out the shortcomings of their loving children.

When they meet Johnny Paolucci , a man about their own age, who saved them from being robbed and got injured in the process. they bring him their home to care for him.  The care expands and before you know it each woman is sleeping with Johnny, unbeknownst to the other.

Clearly nothing good can come from this and nothing does – at least in a theatrical sense. What might be a comedy about two women finding a way to become involved in life turns into an awkward story about two women who are awkward with romance – mostly because they have lived a life during which they were unable to give love to others.

A major problem with this production is that when we meet Fannie and Tess they are both such nasty people it becomes impossible to like or care about them.  They are mean to their daughters who want them to be happy.  They are each complainers who are filled with negativity and self-pity, and worse, they are blamers who fail to take responsibility for their own unhappiness.

It is possible with delicate direction and strong acting to find humor in the situation but this doesn’t happen at Curtain Call.  The characters are played broadly and the characters are coarsely formed.

The performers do offer energetic performances that are broad rather than defining.  Director Kris Anderson fails to tone the mood of the play thinking bigger, louder and coarse is funny.  And, to be fair, some of the antics do draw a laugh from the audience.

Because the performers are so game you wish you could feel as sorry for their characters the way you feel sympathy for them. Pat Hoffman is woefully miscast as the Italian Catholic Tess who shows no redeeming qualities as a mother or wife.  Judi Clements is equally as grumpy as the Jewish mother who raises the art of guilt to new levels.   While both have second act moments suggesting Johnny has transformed them, they seem contrived rather than moving.

The only person to come out of the show with some credibility is Jack Fallon who is able to make the rogue Johnny somewhat likeable.   Remarkably, that Fallon is able to bring a sense of honesty to the most dishonest person on stage.

If you like to feel grouchy during the holidays “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” will put you in that mood.

“Bermuda Avenue Triangle” at Curtain Call Theatre, Latham.  Through December 28.   877-7529 

Bob Goepfert is the arts editor for the Troy Record.   

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