Triangle

Tue 9th – Sat 13th August 2011

reviews

Imogen Sarre

at 14:37 on 11th Aug 2011

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A lot of time and effort had been put into this production: the costumes looked amazing, every actor’s movement had clearly been carefully directed, and the cast’s (many) speeches in unison were spot on (a sure fire indicator of an extensive rehearsal process). However, each of these elements had disappointing accompaniments: the lack of props seemed even more like foolish forgetfulness when set next to the fabulous costumes, and the actors’ clumsy miming even more amateur. The director’s presence was excessively strong onstage – like the actors, audience members were aware of the silent set of stage directions that were taken so very literally by the actors (turn left on the word ‘your’ and raise your right hand, etc). Added to which, although the faultless delivery of lines in unison was impressive, many individuals’ inability to remember their own lines in dialogue was less so – leading to the embarrassing situation where other actors had to mouth reminders to the culpable forgetter.

I actually quite enjoyed this production, possibly partly because some of it was literally laughable. I particularly liked the frequent displays of physical violence: I have rarely seen so many poorly delivered air-slaps and punches in one show. A particular highlight was when Max (Charlian Francisco) caught Rose’s (Molly Kitiyakara) arm as it flew in slow motion about a metre from his face. However, the factory sounds and movements were well executed, the different levels enhancing the action and the movement between them well choreographed. I also loved the singing at the end – with such blatant talent as that, it should have been integrated more often into the body of the play.

This show was unfortunately decidedly amateur, both in terms of the direction techniques employed and the acting skills presented. There were a lot of montages and cheesy ‘flying free’ tropes, but all the actors were commendably focused and trying extremely hard. Perhaps one for school parents to be proud of; I’m not so sure about the receptivity of random punters at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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Olivia Edwards

at 06:14 on 12th Aug 2011

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Hope High School Theatre Company’s rendition of Triangle by Laurie Brooks made me smile for all the wrong reasons. The production’s director Christine Auxier appears to have paid attention to detail in almost every element of the production without, it would appear, pausing to do some basic work on the young casts’ acting ability. Laurie Brooks’s Triangle is a piece that draws a comparison between illegal immigrants, or ‘illegal aliens’, in contemporary America and the ‘searchers’ who scrambled to America in previous centuries. Malena is a first generation American citizen with Mexican parents whose bedroom is haunted by the ghosts of migrant workers who died in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York. The play was up to a good enough standard to please proud parents but unfortunately it was nowhere near sophisticated enough to recommend itself to Fringe audiences.

Several aspects of the production deserve praise. Space on stage was used imaginatively to good effect, with the left third of the stage serving as Malena’s bedroom and the right two thirds as the ghostly realm and the space in which young ghost Sophie tells the story of how she came to lose her little sister during the factory fire and thus became doomed to an afterlife of grief and unrest. The set designer Molly Kitiyakara, who also plays Rose, Sophie’s lost sister, did a fantastic job in distinguishing the ghostly realm from the living by constructing a scaffolding platform raised much higher than the stage floor, this set piece also served as an effective factory. A lot of careful thought had clearly gone into costumes and the fact the programme lists nine sewing assistants (nearly all of whom are cast members) suggests that the grubby Victorian factory outfits that the chorus wore were made especially for the production. Angela Cruz as Malena was a natural on stage and was extremely engaging to watch. Yariel Pearson also showed some real talent – as the dreaming Rose, desperate to leave her responsibilities, her father’s expectations and her suitor Louis behind. Jennifer Sanchez's solo song during the fire scene at the end of the play was beautiful. Ensemble work formed a substantial part of the production with the chorus of ghosts using their voices and physical movement to create scenes or evoke an atmosphere, and this was an extremely effective device at points in the production. I particularly liked the whispering sounds the ghosts made at the start of the play when Malena is alone in her room. At other points in the production however, it became slightly distracting, such as when Rose dreams of escaping her life while the ghostly chorus raise their arms and look into the distance to suggest flight.

Two general criticisms must be made about the casts’ performance. The first is that many of the movements appeared too wooden and obviously choreographed. This was particularly apparent at points of violence in the piece such as Sophie’s slap which was slow enough for the audience to watch her slap her hand and Max’s (played by Charlien Francisco) punch which was just a soundless, unenthusiastic air-punch. Unfortunately moments like this were hard not to smile at. Points in which mime is used in the production, such as the Max’s handling of the wallet Rose steals, or when Raymond Fernandez as the Triangle factory manager grabs the fire hose, also need to be perfected as the mime’s are nowhere near accurate or convincing enough. If the cast were able to work on polishing these movements, the production would come across as significantly slicker. The second criticism is that many of the cast occasionally garbled their lines, which meant the audience missed what was being said. In particular, Charlien Francisco as Max, could be really interesting to watch if he was able to slow down his delivery and annunciate his words more carefully.

The American High School Theatre Festival, is, as its title suggests, a festival all on its own, one that functions in Fringe venues but attracts very few Fringe crowds. Despite this, the High School Theatre festival is an incredibly important project for all of those who take part, and the eighteen months that each production spends fundraising to make it to Scotland should not count for nothing simply because many of the shows cannot compete with the high calibre of amateur and professional shows that draw crowds to the Fringe. It is fantastic that so many young, enthusiastic actors are ambitious enough to take their play to another continent, dedicated enough to make their ambition a reality and courageous enough to compete for audiences at one of the biggest arts festivals in world. The cast of Triangle should be incredibly proud of their efforts.

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