Stewart Pringle’s concise two hander Trestle is a leisurely stroll of a play that discusses the realities of getting on and growing old. Harry (Gary Lilburn) is a shy retiree who occupies his time wrapped up in being chair of the Bullingham Improvement Committee whereas sprightly Zumba instructor Denise (Connie Walker) believes in grabbing every opportunity as it comes. They meet in the brief handover period between their respective groups gathering at the local community hall and the drama plays out with a precise awkward Britishness.
At 80 minutes, Trestle gives us flashes of the pair’s growing relationship as they share local town gossip, personal strife and their hopes of regaining lost youth. Pringle’s profound ability to skilfully write the character of Denise allows Walker to be the remarkable driving force she is on stage. Lilburn approaches the strait-laced Harry with a comedic plodding that provides a much needed warmth to the character.
Tensions arise when personal politics and romantic chemistry unravel. Though this narrative has a whiff of BBC Two comedy-drama tweeness, there’s an electrifyingly refreshing jolt of energy that pumps through consistently.
However, the pace is often thwarted by the abruptness of regular blackouts – 21 gruelling moments of darkness matched with a brooding soundtrack and the scurrying of Walker and Liburn moving a table and chairs across the stage. These blackouts blot the rhythm of the piece so incessantly that it causes more of a distraction than an addition to the work.
It’s a good job Walker and Lilburn carry the piece so well, in incapable hands the heartfelt honesty has the potential to fall flat. It is a shame that so much of this piece is spent plunged in darkness, when the real flickering light of this pair’s relationship is desperate to shine through. 4/5
Review written by Niall Hunt.
Trestle is currently showing until Saturday 25th November 2017 at the Southwark Playhouse. To find out more about the production, visit here…