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Triple X

"emotionally persuasive, physically intimate"

Audrey review: Comedies seldom get to be deemed "important" in the canonical scheme of things. But the frank and funny Triple X might have a shot.

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Category: Theatre
Show: Triple X
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Triple X

Date: 12 Jan 2022

Glace Chase’s Triple X gives the old Prince and the Showgirl story a hard update.

Our prince is Scotty (played here by Josh McConville), a 30-something Wall St financier with money to burn (mostly on coke and partying), a double-height Tribeca loft and a peppy, well-liked fiancée waiting in the wings. 

He also has a bone-deep sense that this can’t be all there is to life.

During one of his regular nocturnal benders he encounters – or rather, is rescued by – Dexie (Chase), a trans woman who performs at a drag club. 

Scotty is intoxicated (in every sense), Dexie is wary (having met guys like this before) but something clicks. This meeting leads to another and they embark on a consuming 10-month clandestine relationship unlike anything either has experienced before.

But as his wedding day looms, Scotty is faced with a choice. Will he buckle down and live the “straight” life expected of him? Or will he embrace his relationship with Dexie and roll with a backlash that could cost him his career? 

Set in New York City, where Chase has spent much of the last decade, Triple X plays like a boulevard comedy for much of the first act. The relationship dynamics of Scotty’s world (resident drinking buddy; anxious mother; a contrary sibling) are familiar enough to enable quick engagement. Happily, Chase knows how to shake up stock ingredients to good effect. 

Triple X comes into its own when Chase creates space for Dexie and Scotty to be alone on stage. Its romantic and sexual negotiations are emotionally persuasive, physically intimate, and for those outside the trans community, probably revelatory. 

McConville is an actor who can dominate a stage with seeming ease. Chase matches him every step of the way. Together, they create a palpable sense of connection and – as their individual facades dissolve – vulnerability. Their sex scenes are frank in their attention to detail (the choreography is by Nigel Poulton) but served with a winningly humorous abandon that only Scotty’s eavesdropping mom, squirming in horror upstairs, can’t fully appreciate.

Contessa Treffone provides an earthily funny counterpoint to the brooding Scotty, playing his lesbian sister. Christen O’Leary is excellent as their nervy mother. Opportunities for physical business (exemplified by McConville’s drunken entrances or forays up and down a floating staircase) are seldom missed. McConville is the Mozart of stage falls.

In what is a new normal for coming weeks, this production has four understudies on call to ensure that whatever happens Covid-wise, the show will go on. Anthony Taufa was on stage on opening night, subbing for Elijah Williams as Scotty’s live-in friend-and-enabler Jase. He did good.

Designer Renee Mulder sets the work on an airy, masculine-minimal, split level set. Ben Hughes’ lighting and Kelly Ryall’s music underscore the play’s mood swings expertly. Director Paige Rattray, who guided Chase’s script through an STC Rough Draft process, directs with her customary verve and eye for telling detail.

Comedies seldom get to be deemed “important” in the canonical scheme of things. But the swift and unanimous standing ovation received by Triple X on this occasion suggests this one might have a shot at a longer life.

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