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“Triangles” at The Road Less Traveled Productions

Opening night is normally a series of highs and lows. Anticipation, nerves and excitement go hand and hand, for a new playwright it can be agony. Wondering how people perceiving your work, your words, your motivations. Until the curtain closes and there is an eruption of applause, you’re on pins and needles; a sign of a good show is the audience feeling that anticipation as well. I was able to attend opening night of “Triangles” at Road Less Traveled Productions and it was a packed house and a wonderful night of theatre.
I had the chance to speak with playwright Jon Elston who wrote “The Elliptical”, to get a sense of where he was coming from and this is a not to be missed theatre experience. Jon confesses that Ches is a more dysfunctional version of himself and he molded his characters after people he has known for a long time. The line between fact and fictions is blurred the later years are far more abstract and not to be taken literally, but while the characters may be abstract, the feelings are real.
The Elliptical has been 5 years in the making; Jon has been involved with RLT and the new Playwrights workshop since the beginning as a moderator, General Manager and one of the founders. As an aspiring screenwriter all of his life Elston has been interested in everything from poetry and comics. He’s a fan of “Juicy rich language” with great structure and prose. One of his favorite writers is David Mamet, who wrote “No One Should Be Immune”. Even though the characters in The Elliptical bare a resemblance to real life friends, he kept himself open in the casting process and was lucky to find the cast he did who brought his work to life.
“Triangles” harkens back to Stephen Sondheim, everything in threes, stories of love and passion accompanied by music that underscores three separate, yet intertwined stories The stories are explored in Swedish master Strindberg’s The Stronger, Buffalo playwright laureate Fried’s Triangle, and the world premiere of The Elliptical. One man, 2 women, 3 plays each from a different time period but achingly similar. The show is directed by Scott Behrend and the original score composed and performed by Al Kryszak.
The Stronger and Triangle are shorter vignettes, 2 women are on stage and one has a monologue, while the other listens and reacts. Lisa Vitrano and Kristen Tripp-Kelley alternate roles each night, which is a challenge for any actress but really keeps things fresh for the audience. The Elliptical stars Todd Benzin, Kelly Meg Brennan and Bonne Jean Taylor.
First we are greeted by a simple home in the late 1800’s, a woman is sitting drinking tea when a dark haired woman arrives, seemingly for a chat. Are they friends? Are they enemies? We really don’t know until the story starts to unfold. Told only in a monologue we learn that Mme. X (Vitrano) is married to Mme Y’s (Tripp-Kelley) lover. Mme. Y’s role is silent but she conveys everything from amusement to sadness and love in her eyes as Mme. X talks to her about living with a man she loves, that she takes care of and will never be Mme Y’s for good. Alternating the roles for the next vignette, we see a living room in the 1950’s; a housewife is folding clothes and ironing. Her name is Jackie and she hears someone come into her living room, the woman in questions is Mary Ann, played by Kristen Tripp-Kelley. She needs to convince Mary Ann that her husband is better off with her; she is pregnant and thinks that she needs him more than Mary Ann. After both vignettes we are left with no resolution, so it is up to the audience to decide what might have come to fruition. Either way we are taken on an emotional journey with nuanced performances and real intentions.
The final play after intermission is “The Elliptical” is an extremely engaging and funny one act play. Anyone who has had a friend of the opposite sex, has competed with a friend, loved a friend or lost one will be able to relate. The story of Ches, Camille and Michelle are told by intertwining monologues with very little interaction. We see their lives and friendships grow through high school to adulthood. It’s witty, verbose and the highlight of the evening.
More information, including ticket information and an exclusive “Triangles” trailer to whet your appetite, visit- roadlesstraveledproductions.org. “Triangles” runs until December 7 and is not to be missed. RLT Productions is housed inside the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center 639 Main Street.

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