The Triangle has a few things going for it: a witty yet emotionally-gripping script, strong acting, and the opportunity to drink throughout the show.
The creation of Paul J. Piekoszewski (PEEK-a-SHEV-skee), The Triangle is about Izzy and Jess, two estranged sisters who were on a cruise but are now in a lifeboat adrift somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle after an unlikely engine explosion. Before long, they wash up on an island and have to figure out how to survive unless they destroy each other first.
Piekoszewski has a long background in improv and a near-obsessive knowledge of pop culture, both of which are reflected in a script that flows snappily with the odd Marlon Brando reference. What’s newer and most exciting is the inclusion of a more emotionally-driven storyline than in Piekoszewski’s previous work with Morning Person Theatre, one where the estranged sisters have drifted apart after their own reactions to their father’s abandonment. This takes up the majority of the almost 60-minute running time, but the wittiness and pop culture are still there even if they do (as they should) take a back seat to the human issues presented. Never before have I laughed so hard at a distraught woman screaming “Fucking Winnipeg!” but if you have in fact been in that situation for whatever reason, then you’ll probably laugh harder here when Meaghan Flaherty does it.
The acting is strong between Flaherty as Jess and Lydia Riding as Izzy, with the occasional appearance by Ethan Pitcher as various men in Jess’s past. Flaherty has the bigger challenge with a lengthy emotional speech toward the end, but Riding manages an angry rant with enough restraint to keep it compelling without ever taking things over the edge. The pop culture references are never forced; they’re made and if you don’t get them, it doesn’t matter because Flaherty and Riding keep going with more to come later.
There are some weaknesses, particularly with the venue. Café Nostalgica is open for business before and during the show so you can totally enjoy a full pint while enjoying The Triangle, but the sightlines are unfortunate (sadly the café doesn’t have a raked floor) and the ambient noise from air conditioning, the bar itself, and patrons out on the patio can be distracting at times. For these reasons I’d recommend showing up a bit early to snag the good seats in front. The script itself isn’t perfect – the ending comes sooner than I’d expected, with a fairly major plot thread still dangling – but its weaknesses are outweighed by its strengths. Because of the ambient sounds the performers can sometimes be drowned out, but that can (and likely will) be overcome by projecting a little more.
All in all, The Triangle is fun little piece that doesn’t ask big questions but does settle the issues that it raises neatly and entertainingly – except for the one unresolved plot thread, but since the principal one of fraternal alienation is resolved, it doesn’t seem to matter as much. This show represents a developmental step forward for its writer/producer/director, not just for his directorial debut but also for his writing style (if you saw Morning Person’s Double Bill of Death then you’ll know how silly it can be, although this represents a much more mature effort). See it, have a beer, and ask yourself just how helpful reading Lord of the Flies was in terms of surviving on a deserted island.
A Morning Person Theatre production
At Café Nostalgica (BYOV C)
Written and Directed by Paul J. Piekoszewski
Performed by Meaghan Flaherty, Lydia Riding, and Ethan Pitcher