Rendezvous: it’s a new play written and directed by Anthony Maskell. The premise is a simple one; a man (no name is given, he is simply called First) arrives at an interview ready for ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’. All semblances of normality, however, are quickly shed as the situation is imbued with hidden menace and cryptic uncertainty. Here, assumptions are definitely challenged.
The preview takes place in a double set in Trinity College, a far cry from the sleek space of the Shulman Auditorium, and yet the only thing that matters is the dialogue fired off between the two actors before me: First (Josh Dolphin) and Third (George Varley). It’s like watching a tennis match: hard to keep up, but thrilling and exciting in its intensity. Their dynamism and rapport is obvious, borne not only of a highly collaborative rehearsal process but the intimacy of a small, tight-knit group of experienced actors. Influenced by the likes of Beckett and Pinter, it’s important to remember that these characters aren’t naturalistic portraits but highly stylized entities. One can imagine them vanishing as soon as the curtains close and yet their impact still stands, thanks to intelligent writing and strong performances from the cast.
Production, though minimalist, is shaping up to be exciting. Lighting is all provided for on-stage by various scattered lamps, and this only adds to the feeling that the world in which these characters exist is a self-contained, self-perpetuating one. And yet even in this reality of their own making, the question of who is really in control still stands. Whether or not answers are ever given becomes, in itself, one of the play’s central and most intriguing questions.
A metronome is another of the set’s gems. Lit from behind, its motion is visible and its tempo controlled by the actors on-stage, a beautiful complement to their already rhythmic dialogue. Time is taken, quite literally, into their own hands. It’s a clever move, and the arrival of an ex-wife from the past, the mystery of present company and the looming future (ominously hinted at in the character Four) show how, in this one room, the different threads of time are elegantly made to intersect. We get the sense that the walls are closing in on our protagonist and there is no way to push them back.
All in all, Rendezvous promises to be a unique, funny and engaging piece of theatre, its comic touches lifting up a play that will make you wonder how the hell you got there, and really glad that you did.
Rendezvous will be performed at the Shulman Auditorium, Queens College from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th November (7th Week) at 7.30pm. Tickets are £3 on the door.
Image// Jack Chisnall