Svengali

August 30, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆   Full of aces

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33): Wed 3 – Sun 28 August 2022
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

Chloe-Ann Tylor is utterly captivating in her performance of Svengali, a gripping new monologue written and directed by Eve Nicol, produced in association with Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Pleasance Theatre.

The play is inspired by the 19th century novel Trilby by George Du Maurier, which introduced Svengali as a seductive villain who controls and exploits. Nicol has updated du Maurier to a contemporary setting on the professional tennis circuit.

Chloe-Ann Tylor in Svengali. Pic: Andy Catlin

Centring around tennis protégé turned worldwide sensation Trilby, and her svengali-like master tennis coach, this piece explores manipulation, coercion, and intense power dynamics. It conveys the complications that come with situations of high stress and success as well as the power of the human mind.

Tylor’s performance as the male tennis coach is intimidating yet exudes just the right amount of charm so that, at points, the audience too fall under his spell. Fascinatingly, she manages to convey unexpected vulnerabilities in the character. Tylor is also a master of subtlety as she effortlessly changes from the un-named coach to tennis star Trilby.

The intense storyline and constant battle for control between the two equally determined and strong-minded people doesn’t falter at any point. The piece sustains a pace and energy which is in part testament to the ferocious and action-packed writing but equally due to Taylor’s commanding presence and ability to hold attention.

simplicity works

The stripped back production may initially seem risky. However, its simplicity works to focus on her movement, directed by Robbie Gordon, which is at points quite physical and makes good use of the intimate space. There are no distractions from the story being told, only small elements to enhance it: a smart suit and slicked back hair which, when stroked back, is almost spine tingling.

Both talents involved in this piece, Tylor and Nicol, are ones to watch and will surely only go from strength to strength following this powerful production.

Running time: One hour (No interval)
Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two), 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ (Venue 33)
Wednesday 3 – Sunday 28 August 2022
Daily (not Mons, or Tue 16): 13.55
Tickets and details: Book here.

Twitter links:
Eve Nicol: @EveNicol
Pleasance Future: @PleasanceFuture
Pitlochry Festival Theatre: @PITLOCHRYft

NB Chloe-Ann Tylor won the Filipa Braganca award, which recognises the best solo performance by an emerging female artist, for her performance in Svengali.

Chloe-Ann Tylor in Svengali. Pic: Andy Catlin

ENDS

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