BERMUDA AVENUE TRIANGLE by Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor. Directed by Ron Lopez. Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 East Hillsdale Blvd. Foster City, CA 94404. 650-349-6411 or January 22 through Sunday February 7, 2010.


Having worked my way through college as a summer waiter in Catskill Mountains (affectionately known as the Borscht Circuit or the Jewish Alps), sitting through Hillbarn’s ribald production of “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” brought back mostly pleasant memories while eliciting open laughter at the improbable shenanigans of the three major characters. It is a riotous sit-com play without the intrusive canned laugh track of TV shows. The laughter erupts spontaneously and often from the appreciative audience that gave this production a standing ovation.

This is the fourth show of Hillbarn’s 69th season called “Next of Kin” which presents shows involving family. It is an over-the-top ethnic comedy/farce with non-stop action taking place in a Las Vegas condominium where two well-meaning daughters (played efficiently by Kathleen Gabriel and Heather Galli) have dumped their widowed mothers, Fannie (Melody Cole) and Tess (Monica Cappuccini). What a condo created by Lee Basham described by Tess as “. . . it looks like it was painted with Pepto Bismol and Vicks Vapor Rub.” The daughters insist they want the mothers to enjoy their lives but the elder ladies seem to enjoy being miserable until con-artist/gambler/lothario Johnny Palolucci (Tom Baxley) changes all that.

Constructed in10 scenes, director Ron Lopez invests cast with broad acting styles, slapstick humor and directorial touches. Fannie is the long-suffering Jewish widow who weeps and whines in the early scenes and evolves into a seductively dressed blonde wigged vamp after Johnny leads her to the bedroom. Not to be upstaged, Tess is an Irish-Italian widow who spews maternal guilt until her seduction by Johnny after he frees her of the curse placed by her ex-Sicilian husband. Her dowdy clothes disappear and she enters act 2 wearing sexy, garish purple leotards kicking up her heels to rival the girls in a chorus line. Although Cappuccini’s Irish/Italian accent is grossly uneven, she and Cole are marvels in their transformations. Kudos goes to costume designer Mae Matos.

Tom Baxley is the cement that gives adhesion and verisimilitude to the improbable story. Moreover, as Johnny, is the catalyst to the ladies’ transformation, and eventually the relatively happy understanding between mothers and daughters. Anthony Silk does not give much depth to the unenviable role as the Rabbi “almost villain” when he tries to evict the trio who are breaking a “moral covenant” written into the condo by-laws. He skirts the issue by declaring they are not actually having a ménage-a-trois because Johnny beds each lady individually! You call it what you will, just go to see this show and have a great evening.

Kedar K Adour, MD

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