Theater review: ‘Bermuda Avenue Triangle’ the funniest ménage à trois you’ll ever see

Bermuda Avenue Triangle HillbarnLucile Ball, your new play has arrived. It’s called Bermuda Avenue Triangle, and just opened at the Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City. Oh, I must warn you. Times have changed. A lot. I hope you don’t mind a bit of choice language. This is Las Vegas after all. And, oh yes, how about a ménage à trois with a drunk stranger to spice things up? Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of heart, and a charming dance number here and there. Let the laughs roll.

And roll the laughs do. Indeed, this is “an orthopedic romp.”

Did you hear the one about the Jewish widow, the Irish widow, and the charming gambler in Vegas? Then, along comes a Rabbi…

I’m pleased to see this edgy and entertaining script (Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna) come to life at Hillbarn. Based on the standing ovation last night, it will greatly please their core fan base without the need to instead reach for a tired classic.

Two daughters, Angela (Kathleen Gabriel) and Rita (Heather Galli), move (or, “dump” according to the brochure) their mothers into a Las Vegas retirement condo, replete with Pepto Bismol pink walls, and assorted Vegas nick-nacks; not to mention a bonus, simulated rain forest. The two are a sorry and cantankerous lot. They’re friends because they get better deals by shopping together and buying in bulk.

Tess (Monica Cappuccini), an Irish widow, can’t have sex, since marriage, thanks to a curse. Fannie (Melody Cole), the jewish widow, cries a lot.

Things take a turn for the crazy, when a mysterious, but charming drunk (Tom Baxley) rescues them from a mugger on a hiking trail. Soon, he woos them, sweet talks them. But who is this man, and what was he doing wandering drunk as a skunk in Red Rock Canyon with no identification? And why does he shout out “Ruby, Ruby!” in his sleep?

A Rabbi (Anothony Silk) unwittingly finds himself more involved in the apparently sordid not-so-private affairs. “I think I’m in the Twilight Zone,” he gasps when he witnesses the sexual re-awakening. The sleepy community of Bermuda Avenue Triangle is soon abuzz with stories and sightings of illicit desire and passion. Unfortunately this behavior violates the HOA code of conduct. Reminder: don’t buy a condo with a morals clause.

The performances are, for the most part, wildly entertaining, and well suited for slapstick comedy. In particular, Melody Cole is outrageous. At times she reminds of Lucille Ball. The next channeling Betty Davis. I thought: this is The Lucy Show + Golden Girls + Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Squint your eyes and I swear you can see Joan Crawford and Betty Davis in Cappuccini and Cole.

There are a few hiccups. The opening is a tad rough. The lines and chemistry don’t feel right. Perhaps the leads use the word “stupid” too often in an attempt to set them up early as partially unlikable. Things really begin to cook though when Tom Baxley shows up and begins his crafty con game.

Also, the length is slightly long. Towards the end, I felt they were trying to juggle too many messages; neatly wrap everything. For example, the reinvention scene where the mothers reaffirm their love for their daughters doesn’t quite work as well as it could, since we have little vested interest in these largely off-stage characters. Still, these are minor things.

Bermuda Avenue Triangle is a racy, guilty pleasure. Laugh-out-loud moments come in never-ending waves with killer one-liners and slapstick in tow.

Yes, that would be me last night walking out of Hillbarn with a silly grin on my face.

Bermuda Avenue Triangle
By Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna
Hillbarn Theatre
4 out of 5 stars
Directed by Ron Lopez Jr.
Starring Tom Baxley, Monica Cappuccini, Melody Cole, Kalthleen Gabriel, Heather Galli, Anthony Silk
Through February 7, 2010
www.hillbarntheatre.org

Noteworthy
  • This is the 4th show in Hillbarn’s 69th season.
  • Happy Birthday to Lee Foster, executive producing director; the audience enjoyed a pre-show sing-a-long to celebrate.
  • Broadway classic Gypsy was announced as the TBA show. It opens May 7. I believe this was the show that replaced Fiddler on the Roof which ran into licensing issues with the SHN production coming into town next week.
  • Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna are one of show business’s most enduring couples. Marred in 1965, they created the Broadway play Lovers and Other Strangers, for which they also wrote the screenplay, earnin gboth an Oscar nomination and critical acclaim. Recently, Bologna played Adam Sandler’s father in the box office hit Big Daddy.
  • The Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC) and Hillbarn Theatre join forces on March 25 at 8:00 pm to host The Great Broadway Sing-Along. Call the Box Office at 650-349-6411 or visit www.hillbarntheatre.org for more information.
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