by Willard Manus
The always provocative Black Dahlia Theatre delivers again with a scintillating production of TRYST by British playwright Karoline Leach. First performed (under the title The Mysterious Mr Love) in the UK and Europe, TRYST is a well-honed psychological thriller, set in the l9th century, depicting the relationship between Adelaide, a mousy little milliner (Deborah Puette), and George, a slick, handsome con man (Gabriel Olds). George's specialty, as he so proudly confides to the audience, is preying on lonely women like Adelaide and proposing marriage, only to ditch them after he's made off with their savings and jewelry.
Set in a seaside boarding house on their wedding night, TRYST is a taut, skilfully written two-person play which keeps going deeper and deeper into the character of these two mismatched souls, finding surprising things there, especially a capacity for love. It would be wrong to call TRYST a love story, though. The playwright pretends to be going in that direction, only to suddenly pull a few suprises from her bag of tricks--surprises that have the power to stun and even horrify.
TRYST gets a nifty production from Black Dahlia. Robin Larsen directs with a firm hand, making sure the 90-minute play moves along spankingly, helping the actors to deliver superb, even memorable performances. Craig Siebel's set is jewel-like; ditto Audry Fisher's costumes. Dialect coach Michael Rodgers wisely sees to it that Olds and Puette employ the lightest of British accents, all that's needed for believability.
Black Dahlia Theatre, 5453 W. Pico Blvd. Call (866) 468-3399 or visit thedahlia.com. The Dahlia's box office is located in the adjacent Home Grown Store, a charming boutique offering accessories and gifts.