Romantic Tetrahedron Theatre Row NYC. Photo by Hunter Canning
Photo Hunter Canning

Romantic Trapezoid

Reviewer's Rating

The title “Romantic Trapezoid”  suggests an interesting twist on the classic triangle. It isn’t.

First, it’s just another triangle–a man connected with two women in this case. No one is married. The main “problem” of the play is that Dave (Zack Calhoon) wants to get married but Melissa (Elizabeth Ingram) wants the freedom to carry on a number of indeterminate friendships with men. If they get married, or break up, or don’t, who cares? There are no real stakes–no career or family or mental health consequences. He’s a film studies professor; she’s some kind of journalist. Everyone is uninterestingly unencumbered.

There are also no real plot complications or reversals, one at most. Woman Number Two, Dave’s assistant Beth (Joy Donze), is introduced as a possible serious rival for his  attentions. And we don’t know whether that’s all true or just a ploy on the part of Dave to make Woman Number One jealous, or whether Beth is a compromised agent, secretly working on her own behalf. This doubt could lead to some clever, interesting situations. It doesn’t. We have exposition, the introduction of the other woman, and the resolution.

There could be interesting characters or memorably witty dialogue along the way, but there isn’t either really. Dave is described by both Melissa and Beth as essentially just nice and reliable. His patter is studded with familiar Bogey impressions lifted right out of Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam. We get no particular insight into academic life, journalism, modern mores or the mores of a different period. It seems written to take place in the mid-sixties rather than today, but that’s neither explicit nor explored either.

Ingram keeps catching our attention throughout–teasing, sprawling fetchingly, taking control. But there’s not much emotional terrain for her to explore. And while Calhoun does his best to be a worthy partner in the relationship dance, with plenty of committed smooching, there’s not a whole lot of chemistry there. Donze gives a notable turn as a sort of Valley Girl cutie on a mission. That’s sort of fun. The closest thing to a pop culture reference–other than Dave’s Bogart impressions–is her asking for a Diet Pepsi. We sense it was updated from “Tab” in an earlier version.

I didn’t set out to write a slam. This is a competent, professional production. The set, blocking, and lighting are all serviceable. There’s a believable kitchenette off the living room and an intriguing, well lit closet of colorful, satiny outfits.  The performers are all certainly capable. There’s just nothing to rave about.