Hopelessly Devoted at the Tricycle Theatre
After extensively touring the UK, Hopelessly Devoted has arrived at the delightful Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn. The play is written by Kate Tempest, creator of the hugely successful Wasted. Hopelessly Devoted depicts the life of Chess (Cat Simmons), who has been imprisoned for murdering her abusive husband. Built upon the themes of motherhood, hard knocks and love, we’re pulled along this linear narrative by a strong all-female cast.
Drawing from the multi-talented Tempest’s other career, music is interwoven throughout the narrative and each character performs several songs, making this piece an interesting hybrid of play and musical. The narrative is spoon-fed through obvious and at times clichéd dialogue. That isn’t to say that it’s weak, simply that we’ve seen much of it before. The songs’ lyrics feel obvious and at times act only to clarify and reiterate what we’re seeing on stage.
The play does have real heart and despite its gritty and urban theme, never feels too contrived for a genre so often poorly packaged and rendered unbelievable. Committed performances are a major factor in the play’s success, as well as its slick, accomplished direction and superb sound design. This is especially strong during clever transitions between scenes.
Juxtaposed against the hardship of Chess’ life is a strong spine of comedy throughout. Gaining several big laughs from the audience, the perfectly-timed delivery of several gags offer up some entertainingly funny moments.
Overall, Hopelessly Devoted does suffer from occasionally feeling hackneyed and at times does lack a little subtlety. Ultimately a weakness in the writing, rather than the on-the-night performance, these flaws do reduce the audience’s relationship with the story and therefore its final payoff. That said, it would be wholly unfair to discredit the play entirely on these factors as it has many successes and is widely appealing. Strong performances and intelligent direction are the most memorable attributes of the production and its positives heavily outweigh its negatives.
Photo: Richard Davenport
Hopelessly Devoted is at the Tricycle Theatre until 19th April 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Hopelessly Devoted here: