3 X 3: A Trio of Short Plays Unravels the Human Condition

A cast of supple young actors and actresses took part in ménage à trois of plays that worked together as awkwardly as switching partners. Despite the lack of transitional grace between each play, "3x3: A Trio of Short Plays" is a delightfully scattershot production.

Though each play seemingly has nothing to do with the other, they do provide audiences with entertainment and even a little insight. The first play, Christopher Durang's "The Actor's Nightmare," is a spoof about an accountant suddenly thrust on stage, forced to act out a play he has never seen or heard, thus the title. The play makes heavy allusions to "Hamlet," attempting to satirize the complexity of old-time Shakespearian language while simultaneously poking fun at oversimplified post-modern theatrical elements reminiscent of Samuel Beckett's existential tragicomedy "Waiting For Godot."

Durang turns his characters into caricatures of thespian stereotypes, from the loud flustered stage manager to the overdramatic mistress. The melodrama of each character sometimes comes off as contrived rather than witty, however, the cast, especially David Goeser (main character George Spelvin), does an excellent job of making annoying characters endearing by never breaking character. The melodrama is tedious but Durang is a master of comedic relief. Goeser's cast mates constantly tell him "break a leg" during his the performance as a character whose original actor broke both legs in a car accident. Har har.

Though the play is humorous, there is far more emphasis on drama than comedy. A disheveled Goeser delivers a poignant soliloquy addressing Catholic guilt and the predictability of his career that leaves him feeling unfulfilled and searching for meaning.

 

The theme of Goeser's soliloquy subtly carries over to the second play, Donald Margulies "July 7, 2004." The play is outlines a typical day-in-the-life of an inner-city doctor confronted by hardship of a handling a lower working class immigrant with a broken heart, telling a single mother that she is dying and a bipolar, obsessive flasher that longs for stability and family. Margulies examines the modern method of ignoring the suffering we witness everyday but substituting our sympathies for those in our immediate lives with on television and in the media by setting the play during the O.J. Simpson trial.

 Main character Kate (Alyssa Tyson) is both delicate and strong at the same time and Tyson portrays this juxtaposition well. The dramatic lighting and Brian Eno-esque soundtrack also works well in the play, lending itself to the long pauses in dialogue where dialogue was thin. The play ends on a sad note with no resolution, which is fitting as there has yet to be an end to suffering and there may not ever be one.  

The theme of themelessness extends to the third and final play. David Mamet's "Edmond" is about a white-collar worker in New York City struggling with the realization of the futility of human existence, the apathy of his peers and his own frustration with his own meaningless, fruitless life.

Driven mad by classism, racism and perverse sexual desire, Edmond (Nick Mayer) leaves his wife, visits numerous whore houses unsuccessfully before bedding a waitress and finally murders a few unsuspecting victims which ultimately lands him in a jail cell.

Edmond strikingly similar to Willy Loman from Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman."  They both bumble about, complaining about the injustices they suffer but never doing anything constructive to help. Their weak natures result in the destruction of not only their lives but those around them as well.

While the darker issues are never really examined further, the bouncy and fun soundtrack featuring Queen and David Bowie balance out the explicit negativity with nonsensical singing and dancing sequences. The final resolution of the play is silly and heartwarming, letting audiences exit the theater with a smile.

"3x3" had five showings in total. Its final curtain call was on Sunday.

 

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