BWW Review: TRYST, Chiswick Playhouse
First seen in the West End over 20 years ago, titled The Mysterious Mr Love, Karoline Leach's Tryst is the final show of the Chiswick Playhouse's inaugural season; a melodramatic mixture of psychological thriller and slightly awkward love story.
Set in 1910 and based on a true story, we meet George Love, a bigamist and serial trickster who targets shop-girl Adelaide Pinchin. George has his eye on Adelaide's nest-egg, but having convinced her that their relationship is real, Adelaide agrees to run away with him. However, things take an unexpected turn in this tense, if sometimes meandering, drama.
Originally two acts, but compressed into one 84-minute run, the script could be trimmed. The production is partly narration and partly dialogue; some of the narration is intimate and often wryly amusing, but some is clunky and obvious. Although billed as a thriller, the tension often sags due to the script and could be tighter in places.
However, what elevates this production are the excellent performances from the actors. Scarlett Brookes is both likable and sympathetic as Adelaide; she is lonely, naïve but also deeply intelligent. Brookes is full of vulnerability and delicate emotion, especially at the fact that life did not hold many options for a girl like her at the time the play is set, but she openly craves a better life than the one she currently lives.
Fred Perry is highly charismatic as George, with quick-wit and slimy charm. His misogynistic language rolls easily off his tongue in his asides and he shows good comic timing. Perry is suitably suave, smooth and very convincing as a con-man.
In this two-hander, much relies on the chemistry between the two characters; there is a quiet battle of wits going on, as well as a sadly believable deception. There is also a theme of two damaged people coming together to find acceptance in each other. Again, the script is the thing that fails here, rather than the performance, as it lacks some understatement.
The play ran at the venue in 2017 and Phoebe Barran reprises her directorial role. She keeps the pace going well; there is a good consistency in the intimate atmosphere within the theatre and the ending remains unexpected.
Jessica Staton's design is very neat and manages to create several different sets, with the actors smoothly moving props and furniture around to transform the small space before the eyes of the audience. An almost instant transformation of two travel cases into a bed is simple, but done very well. This clever sectioning of the stage is complimented by Chris McDonnell's artful lighting design.
Overall, despite niggles with the script, this is an entertaining and intriguing evening, with some excellent performances.
Photo Credit: Savannah Photographic