Tryst, Vault Festival

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by Meredith Jones Russell

It’s a week until Matt and Steph’s wedding and they’re hungover. They want to be playing computer games on the sofa but instead they are having to field calls from Steph’s mum, arrange Matt’s suit and make big decisions about bunting.

But that’s not the half of it. When Steph’s chief bridesmaid Rachel turns up unexpectedly, she reveals a secret that might threaten everything, and forces all three of them to face up to the consequences of their messy nights and bad decisions.

Thanks to three great performances and a taut script, Tryst is a gripping piece. The three characters are well-rounded and convincing, and as lies unravel and confessions are made it is difficult to know who to side with. In fact, one of the many strengths of the script is its even-handedness; a combination of duologues allows each character to reveal a slightly different side of themselves, and just as blame is placed squarely at the feet of one, another aspect of the story gets revealed which throws the whole thing up in the air again.

This also contributes to the only really flaw, however, which is the ending. For a piece that packs incredible emotional punch throughout, it concludes on more of a whimper. Of course, messy situations don’t lend themselves to neatly tied-up resolutions, but after the plot has rolled on so confidently, it is surprising to see it lose its way in the last ten minutes, and the denouement is ultimately unsatisfactory.

But the set and lighting design is superb, the costumes complement both strikingly, and the stage management is tight, as mobile phones actually ring right on cue even in the signal-blackhole of the Vaults.

As Rachel, Clodagh Mooney Duggan is particularly impressive alternating between steely self-composure and vulnerability, and the play touches on some serious issues (Irish abortion laws, alcoholism and loneliness, to name a few) with real sensitivity.

Tryst runs through 17 February.

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