'Trilogy' rehashes issues of fidelity

After death and taxes, relationship road bumps might be added to the list of life's certainties. So there's plenty of material available to the writers of "A Black Trilogy 2003," all of whom address some aspect of fidelity.

The theme inspires some crisp dialogue and offbeat humor, but neither the writers' thoughts nor their methods of presentation are terribly original. The rewards of this Unity Players Ensemble presentation, then, are limited to scattered moments when the actors connect with something funny, touching or true.

The short plays by Edgar Chisholm, Kenneth B. Davis and Michael H. Goodwyn -- staged by Unity's producing artistic director, Spencer Scott -- all pivot on relationship turning points. The first and last stories end with the same symbolism, which could be seen as symmetry or a sign of ideas run dry.

Rudimentary sets and lights provide little context or mood, and Scott's direction often leaves actors moving aimlessly.

Still, the audience at a recent performance laughed knowingly as menace began to crackle between buddies-on-the-outs Alfonso Freeman and Hansford Prince, wrestling with the incident that drove them and their families apart in Davis' "The Long Night," and lost-in-midlife Stacey Herring and director Scott, seeking playful ways to release tension in the middle story of Goodwyn's three-part "Dimensions of a Black Man."



"A Black Trilogy 2003," Unity Players at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. Ends Sunday. $18. (323) 860-3208. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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