Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Palm Beach Dramaworks

Also see Jeffrey's review of Ain't Misbehavin'

Jim Ballard and Claire Brownell
It's difficult to review a psychological drama since there is always the chance of giving too much away. Tryst, by British playwright Karoline Leach, is just such an example.

The time is the early 1900s. Handsome roué George Love (Jim Ballard, still working on his British accent) tells us of his imperfections, of which he is quite proud. Foremost is his ability to meet, woo, bed, rob, then leave women who are vulnerable and lonely. He meets Adelaide Pinchin (Claire Brownell, mastering a superb accent), who just could be his match.

As the two-act play moves on, we see subtle changes in Adelaide that keep us on the edge of our seats. Will she or won't she see George for what he is, and will her plainness and vulnerability make her yet another victim? To avoid spoilers and the consternation of my readers, suffice it to say that the ending is thrilling and will leave you quite satisfied—and devastated.

J. Barry Lewis directs his two-person cast with the finesse and eye to detail that we have come to expect from him. Ballard is terrific as the "caddest of cads." He leads the audience's guessing game with charm, a leer in his eye, and a fierce determination to get what he wants. Will he?

That said, it's Brownell who stays in your mind. A chameleon of the first order: A woman of indescribable beauty, she transforms herself into an archetypal milliner's assistant. Not a stitch of makeup, only a vulnerability that is, at the outset, shattering. Watch her closely as the evening progresses. Her subtle transformation—her stiff upper lip, her challenge to George—is a revelation that I will remember for a very long time.

Credit must be paid to the production team: perfect costuming by Brian O'Keefe and basic yet apropos sliding scenery slats by Jeff Modereger. The subtle sound effects are perfectly executed by Richard Szczublewski. While we are on sound, there were many moments, when Ballard and Brownell were facing each other, that were very difficult to hear at the performance I attended. Many "what'd they says" among my fellow audience members. I was in the fourth row. I am sure that this will be fixed in the near future but it is something that must be mentioned.

All in all, a terrific play, two masterful performances, great direction and a couple of terrific trysts, I mean "twists." Enjoy!

Tryst runs through June 8, 2014, at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, FL. Performances are Wednesday-Saturday @ 8PM and 2PM Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. There are several 7PM Sunday performances, as well. Tickets range from a $10 student rate to $52. For more information, call the box office @ 561-514-4042 X 2 or visit

Photo: Alicia Donelan

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- Jeffrey Bruce

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