Tryst (2016) 

Written by Finbarr Doyle and Jeda de Brí 

Directed by Jeda de Brí 
Produced by Davey Kelleher 
Performed by Katie McCann, Clodagh Mooney Duggan and Finbarr Doyle

A couple of hours spent at the theatre are always a treat; sometimes even regardless of the play, especially at the Lyric theatre, Belfast. I often aim to arrive slightly early to enjoy the view of the Lagan with a glass of Tempranillo. Although the play doesn’t always affect your enjoyment at the Lyric, of course it’s a definite enhancement, and this was certainly the case with Tryst. 

I recently saw Tryst, a Dublin production, on a relaxed Friday night, glass of wine in hand, not really sure what to expect from the vague description and basic set. But the parallels to basic have to be left there, because Tryst was anything but. From the outset, I was immediately impressed by the strength of the dialogue, and advanced to being blown away by the complexity of the dynamics as the script progressed. The acting was as much of an accolade as the script; the actors oscillated in perfect tandem, none standing out against the others, as the performances were equally powerful. It’s likely that what you derive from the narrative will depend largely on your personal affiliations with the characters, and will probably inspire heated discussions about who was more at fault. 

Finbarr Doyle said more with an expression than most could with speech. His face was a reflection of every nuance of emotion between all three of the performers. And as much as he had us torn over his motives, we were still in tears of mirth after he perfectly delivered a comedic line. Katie McCann could set her jaw and instigate fear with a glare and a sharply delivered unmerciful line, making her character, Steph, sometimes intentionally difficult to like, even though she was technically the hardest done by. Clodagh Mooney Duggan portrayed Rachel as entirely victimised and doe-eyed, when in reality she likely had a chip on her shoulder and an axe to grind. 

I have a secret love for taking a moment out at the theatre or cinema, sneaking glances behind me to observe audience reactions. During Tryst I saw one man cringing into the palm of his hand, another creased over with laughter, and a woman covering her mouth with shock. And this was all during the same scene. 

Tryst was fraught with complexities that the audience wasn’t privy to as they happened before the action plot, and so we were left wondering whether every folly can be reduced into the simplicities of perspective, and if anything is ever as black and white as it may seem. And so, overriding all senses of condemnation, we, the audience, were left feeling bereft for all involved. 

Tryst successfully juggled the intricacies of sexual politics and friendship, and why they should stay at least ten feet away from each other at all times. Consisting of countless difficult moments of denunciation as friend and loved ones turned on each other, Tryst was fraught with tension that made it uncomfortable viewing even though you don’t want to be anywhere else. 

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