“Tryst” an Emotional Tug of War at Palm Beach Dramaworks
By Skip Sheffield
“Tryst” is a riveting, emotional tug of war between a predatory man and a vulnerable woman, playing through June 8 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
There really was a George Love, though he went by other aliases too. What is known for sure is that he seduced and went through the sham of marriage with at least seven women between 1908 and 1914.
Playwright Karoline Leach has fictionalized one of these women as Adelaide Pinchin, played by Claire Brownell, last seen in “Exit The King” at PBD. George Joseph Love is played by Jim Ballard, who has been in four shows previously at PBD, most notably as El Gallo in “The Fantasticks.”
El Gallo is a bit of a rotter, but he can’t hold a candle to master seducer George Love. As we meet Love he is down on his luck; behind in his rent and in need of a conquest.
He finds it in Adelaide Pinchin, a shy, insecure London milliner who rarely leaves the back of her hat shop. One day as she is placing a fancy hat in the display window her eyes meet those of handsome George Love. Love is experienced enough to know Adelaide is smitten at first sight. Like an expert angler he sets the hook with outrageous flattery, false modesty and outright lies concerning his wealth and social position. You may chuckle at his sheer audacity.
George Love is a character you love to hate, and conversely Adelaide is a woman you long to warn and protect. While George is an outright villain, there are some surprises in Adelaide, delivered with clever conviction by Claire Brownell.
Adelaide is not a smashingly beautiful woman but she is not unattractive as represented by the petite, delicate, ginger-haired Claire Brownell. It is fascinating to see her bloom in Act Two. It is the skill of the playwright that keeps us guessing as to this emotional tug of war. We are loathe to reveal any spoilers, but we will wager many of you will be surprised at the outcome.
“Tryst” is the kind of play in which costumes are very important. Brian O’Keefe’s 1910 Edwardian designs are quite exquisite. It is a measure of the quality of this play, directed by J. Barry Lewis, that we were kept on the edge of our seats even at an old folks’ Saturday matinee.
Tickets are $60 and may be reserved by calling 561-514-4042 or by going to www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.