Beryl takes place in a cluttered bedsit, where the vivacious titular character runs a service that allows curious potential crossdressers to experiment with different looks. The rather grumpy oddball, Frank (Alan Rogers) has engaged these services, but Beryl (Lesley-Ann Reilly) has trouble figuring out what it is he wants. As their encounter turns from crossdressing to pseudo-therapy, Frank and Beryl discuss their pasts and what has led them to this point.

You can certainly see the potential in Beryl.

The play is an excellent model for the fate of many newly-written short plays. It is full of intriguing ideas and refreshing characters, but doesn't succeed in fleshing either of these out fully. A high point is the playwright/actor Reilly’s characterisation of Beryl: she creates an endearing, chipper and yet somehow tragic woman who clearly tries to help herself by helping others. The character drives the plot, occasionally providing the jolt of pace and energy that is needed in a play that has a tendency to collapse into sluggish or stagnant sections, which aren't helped by oddly repetitive fragments of dialogue.

The play's central problem is that is it doesn't attain the dramatic gravity that its later revelations require. The sinister edge that the company attempts to introduce falls flat, leaving Frank and Beryl’s divulgences looking an awful lot like they’re shoehorned in. We simply don't care enough about the characters. In parts, the play doesn't explore them deeply enough, while in others it goes so deep into their psyches that it feels odd that we don't have a better sense of who they are. What does Beryl exist on the stage to do? It’s not always very clear.

At Large Theatre Company state that they want to create opportunities for theatre makers to develop their craft, and you can certainly see the potential in Beryl. It is a pity that it, like Frank, cannot decide what it wants.

Reviews by Andrew Forbes

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The Blurb

Frank, a sensitive loner, is haunted by the memories of his past. Driven by an urge to overcome these, he avails of the private cross-dressing services of Beryl. As their stories unfold, both characters must unmask themselves before the other and the true purpose of their meeting becomes clear. As both characters face painful truths about their desires and fears, a final revelation brings their conflicting energies to a dangerous point until there can only be space for one inside Beryl's rundown bedsit.