May 23, 2013
Written by Joanne Greco Rochman
Thursday, 23 August 2012 11:12
Thunder rolls loud and deep on the TheaterWorks stage in Hartford. As the threatening sound dissipates, a dark and dreary London is revealed. It is the early 1900s, when suddenly, a man appears.
It is George Love, the protagonist in “Tryst” by Karoline Leach. Love is an Edwardian con-man of the first order. He not only preys upon naïve unmarried women who have money, but he feels justified in doing so because he gives them a wedding night to remember.
When Love appears, he looks disheveled and desperate. He is out of funds and on the prowl. What he’s looking for is an unsuspecting spinster who has some money. Proudly, he speaks directly to the audience and explains exactly how he goes about rendering naïve women penniless. He has the looks, after all. And he has the charm. He also knows just how to spot his targets.
Adelaide Pinchin fits the bill for Love. She has all the right qualifications. She’s shy, unmarried, and wears an expensive broach on her high collared blouse. It doesn’t take long for Love to entrap this lonely woman. With compliments brightening her dull life, she eats up everything Love says. Meanwhile, he determines how much she’s worth and then manages to convince Adelaide that she is just what he has been looking for in a wife.
Reveling in his attention and devotion, she’s an easy mark for this brutish predator. In what seems like a blink of the eye, he proposes marriage, arranges for an elopement, and asks her to bring along her bank book in order to officially change her last name.
What makes this play so interesting is that you forget that it’s a thriller. The victim turns out not to be such an easy mark. She catches on to Love’s ways. Both the predator and the victim have serious psychological problems that come to light unexpectedly and in the process not only enlighten, but add a deeper dimension to these richly developed characters.
With so many twists and turns, the audience must follow the action closely. Not to ruin a grand moment, just know that this play has been most aptly labeled a thriller. It is for mature audiences.
Mark Shanahan plays George Love and transforms himself from charming to menacing with his piercing eyes and devilish demeanor. At times his is so thick and the dialogue so fast, that Shanahan is difficult to understand.
Andrea Maulella as Adelaide Pinchin also transforms herself. She moves from unattractive and plain to bright and lovely. She also has a shrewdness to her upright figure that makes her character intriguing.
Under the well-timed direction of Joe Brancato, who led this same cast in “Tryst” at the Irish Repertory Theatre, this production is quite at home in Hartford at TheaterWorks. The production runs through Sept. 9. Box office: 860-527-7838.
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