Triumvirette is a triptych of short plays by a trio of American graduates from East 15 Acting School – Kaitlin Gould, Kelly Blaze and Kimberly Hoffman. Each is quite different in tone and style, but each has a strong point to make about the perception of women, if sometimes a little too heavy handedly to be fully effective.
Gould takes to the stage in gym wear eyeing herself in an imagined mirror. It’s not narcissism that draws her to it though. Placing a bucket over her head and pawing at what she believes to be flabbiness, her self-perception is soon made clear. She plunges mouth first into a chocolate cake to introduce her eating disorder, and as the short piece progresses, the cake gets eaten in an ever grosser manner, topped off with cream squirted straight into her mouth. The character, Alice – the piece is called Mirrors and is preceded by Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit so the Looking Glass reference is clear – has a family and friends backstory that adds to this negative self-image. It is strongly and confidently acted, and in its short duration is perhaps more notable for its creator’s acting talent than for any particularly distinctive treatment of its subject matter, even if it is sound enough in itself.
Second up and much longer, Battle of the Trident is a fun piece. Blaze herself plays a girl-nerd, who has three boy-nerds coming round to play the Game of Thrones board game, one of whom she hopes might stick around afterwards to assist with her sexual awakening. She frets to her collection of cuddly toys and fantasy models about the prospect of losing her virginity, before deciding it’s time they were retired to the cupboard for their own good. Naturally and somewhat predictably, things don’t go entirely according to plan once the boys arrive, but it all makes for easy, enjoyable viewing and Blaze is in command of the piece throughout. We also get some Game of Thrones “sex music” which is a nice touch.
Shtick Up For Yourself by Kimberly Hoffman is the most complex of the three, and even in its short timespan, shows pleasing depth. Hoffman has found a neat framework for her piece. She plays Bea, a stand-up on a male-dominated comedy circuit. Wearing heels and party dress, and making dick and slut jokes, she knows very well what her audience and fellow comics expect of her, and detests it. She starts off joshing, but in asides to the others on the bill and to us, falls out of her routine to makes her hate and anger clear. She’s conflicted by what she is doing to advance her career, but defiant that once she hits the top, things will be done on her terms.
It is a strong and passionate piece, but it does rush to make its point. It could usefully linger longer in stand-up mode (even if Hoffman doesn’t look entirely comfortable in the role) before really letting rip, which she does very effectively. There’s also a sense that this might play more strongly on an American scene full of jock comedians, than in Edinburgh in 2016, where there are visibly a number of high-profile female comics who don’t play that game, and the majority of male comics are self-loathing beta males playing more feminist than thou. Nevertheless, the piece definitely has legs.
All three pieces in Triumvirette shape like works-in-progress, but their creators have approached the Fringe the right way, sharing an hour that showcases their individual talents well. The route is one that other early career performers might consider.