TRESTLE won the Papatango Award for New Writing in 2017, when it was staged at Southwark Playhouse. Owing to Covid it has had to wait longer than it should have done for its second production. In fact, this staging was being rehearsed in the Autumn of 2020 with a view to a live production when another Lockdown intervened.
There are far too few good full length plays for two people using one set so this intelligent play by Stewart Pringle is more than welcome.
Harry (Chris Pickles) feels as if life is starting to wind down… the autumn of his life being spent quietly ‘caring for the community’ he loves. Denise (Jilly Bond) thinks that life begins in retirement, and I totally agree with her, except that, unlike her, I do not dance as if I am still a teenager! Their understanding of the time they have left changes irrevocably after a chance meeting in the local newly decorated and spotless Village Hall (designer Simon Nicholas) and the audience is asked to consider the meanings of community, growing old and falling in love. The play is beautifully written chronologically in a series of short scenes – occasionally one wishes for longer ones so that more depth can be explored and to add variety, but overall there is a humour and poignancy to the writing which is very believable.
Jilly Bond is the epitome of the ‘athletic’ senior citizen, even down to the leggings, but it is easy to see why Harry at first mistakes her for the hall caretaker/cleaner! Her abrasive nature is amusingly brought out by this actor, with great use of facial expression, allowing us to see that what she is thinking is not necessarily what she is saying!
We have all met people like Chris Pickles’ “Harry”. Afraid of having nothing to do in retirement he joins every charity going and ends up being put upon and not enjoying anything he does. The actor is superb in conveying Harry’s different moods and the weariness of the role is subtly portrayed.
The play is greatly helped by the light touch direction of Matthew Parker, who lets the play speak for itself – if occasionally lacking pace and energy: each short scene is inclined to be very similar to the previous one, and at times one is reminded of the style of a television ‘soap’.
However, overall I greatly enjoyed this play – at just over two hours including interval, it makes a very enjoyable ‘live’ evening’s entertainment. Recommended!
Review by John Groves
Harry feels like life is beginning to tick down…his autumn years spent quietly caring for the community he loves. Denise, on the other hand, thinks life begins in retirement and she’s dancing like she’s still in high school. When their paths cross at the village hall, their understanding of the time they have left changes irrevocably. What do community, growing older, and falling in love really mean?
THE MALTINGS THEATRE ST ALBANS
presents ‘TRESTLE’ by Stewart Pringle
March 27th at 7.30pm – live streaming from the Maltings
Running time: 2 hours plus interval