Alone in Triptych at the HERE Arts Center

A trio of dramatic monologues leading to shocking revelations.

Alone in Triptych, by Renee Philippi, presented by the Concrete Temple Theatre at HERE is an odd attraction for this temple of the avant-garde. Alone is a straightforward, beautifully acted trilogy of intertwining solos. The title is a bit misleading since each of the three characters is at all times addressing an unseen person, the object of their obsessive attention.

Leanne (Vera Beren), a handsome woman in a tight dark colored outfit, carefully made-up, speaking in a full blown New York accent, is first heard on the phone going on and on about her mom’s yeast infection. She then speaks to her husband, the conversation turning to having children, a sore spot in their relationship. Soon police pursuing him come to the door and he hides out. Clearly this is not going to be a story with a happy ending.

Remi (Michael Tomlinson), a middle aged, kind of ordinary fellow, has abducted an adolescent “for her own good” and is hiding her, chained, in a cave-like structure where she will never be found. He keeps up a constant bantering tone, complimenting her on her pretty hair ribbon, speaking of his late mother and otherwise avoiding the gravity of his crime.

Lori (Catherine Porter), a full-figured, innocent-faced young woman, is in an abusive relationship with her alcoholic husband forcing her to flee. She talks and flirts with strangers until she makes herself return to face her abuser.

The actors wander in and out, interrupting each other’s stories as the three large hanging panels (designed by Carlo Adinolfi) are moved to create varied stage spaces. Also on stage are three sofa-like constructions which become beds, boulders and a park bench as needed by the characters. Although at first it is bothersome not to hear each drama acted out in a single sequence of revelations, as the pace quickens and the overlapping speeds up, the effect is quite exhilarating. As each tale ends in a climactic spasm of violence the cascade of dramatic shocks are quite effective.

The three actors are believable and totally committed. Ms. Beren has an earthy voluptuousness that her character uses as a default way of dealing with her wayward husband, offering sexual favors to calm him down. She balances strength with neediness. Ms. Porter is convincing as an innocent warped by years of abuse. She displays a need for attention confusing it with sexual neediness. Mr. Tomlinson manages to seem both avuncular and menacing. His vaguely effeminate behavior is a great cover for the evil inside him.

The projections by Stefan Hagen and the sound design by Vera Beren helped create mood and ambiance. The two directors, Eric Nightengale and Ms. Philippi, were skillfully unobtrusive, getting full-bodied performances from the actors.

Alone in Triptych – March 13-30, 2014
HERE Arts Center
145 Sixth Ave. at Dominick St.
New York, NY
Tickets: 212-352-3101 or
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Running Time: 70 minutes, no intermission

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