Tryst at Tabard Theatre
The problem with a story involving too many twists – and the second half of Tryst dissolves into a seemingly unending zig-zag of turns and counter-turns – is that if things keep darting back and forth, the narrative never actually moves forward.
Tryst establishes a premise with some potential, a fraudster who cons young women in love out of their savings, and features two actors who carry the show with confidence. Having brought the action to a nail-biting climax, however, the script, written by Karoline Leach, seems to get stuck. Confined by the real-life ending of the story on which the play is based, the second half consists of an achingly long confrontation in which characters fail to act according to their established personalities, leading to an end that feels forced and unearned. There is an uncomfortable parallel to be drawn with Sartre’s No Exit; no one leaves or reaches a definite conclusion and the conversation lurches round in circles.
This is an immense shame because the first part of the play is delightful. Fred Perry is a just-sympathetic-enough, charming but sometimes creepy villain and Natasha J Barnes, the show’s evident star, does an excellent job as a timid and romantic shop girl. The humour is well-received and the pace is pleasantly rapid, which could be part of why the show’s later scenes seem so painful to sit through. Overall, Tryst is at its best in moments of frenetic dialogue and it is only during Barnes’s first longer speech that the writing begins to show signs of strain. George Love and Adelaide Pinchin are both fascinating characters but the difficulty the script encounters – and fails to overcome – is how to show this rather than forcing its characters to state it outright.
That said, this is still an impressive production and both actors do great work with somewhat spotty material. The set design, too, is worthy of some praise, making excellent use of a confined space, featuring at one point a clever and somewhat eerie visual effect.
Photo: Alastair Hilton
Tryst is at the Tabard Theatre from 12th October until 5th November 2017. For further information or to book visit the Tabard Theatre website here.