“Sometimes wry, sometimes touching and constantly captivating”
If forced to choose a combination of seemingly innocuous words which form something terrible when combined, my first would probably be “flavoured toilet brush” – in a very close second, however, would be “long distance relationship”. They’re frustrating, tense and more often than not leave you utterly unsatisfied with the way you’re spending your time – it’s a great pleasure, then, that Cailin Harrison’s “Waitless” summons up completely opposite feelings thrown up.
Focusing on the lives of New York newlyweds Shelly and Trent, the show largely follows the former’s fraught journey of self-realisation as she struggles with the loss of identity that comes with both expatriation and the changing nature of her marriage.
Although Jessica Moreno and Andrew Boyle are the only two on stage, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Boyle’s skill with rapid, crisp and amusing character shifts are an absolute joy to watch – several times writing this review, I had to mentally check there were only two actors involved.
And as the leading lady, Moreno utterly steals the show with her raw energy and stage presence: she could be reading the shipping forecast and still hold an audience’s attention. The nature of Shelly’s character would be difficult to pull off for any actress, but Moreno manages to be endearingly gregarious without it ever becoming irritating or unneededly fake.
It’s clear from the outset that these are two very versatile, very impressive actors: both in terms of their individual talents and onstage chemistry.
However, the energy that makes this show shine also threatens to burn: some of the more poignant moments felt slightly muddled in, simply because there was seldom any moment of slowness to fully appreciate Harrison’s dramatic turns. And although appropriately bittersweet, the ending left me somewhat wanting. Take it as a sign of the show’s knack for characters, but I felt the story lacked closure. Perhaps that’s the nature of the beast, as anyone who has suffered through the British visa system will tell you, but I was nevertheless disappointed that the final curves of Shelly’s character arc seemed to be cut short.
At the end of the day, though, there’s no avoiding that this is a very good show indeed. Sometimes wry, sometimes touching and constantly captivating, Waitless is worthy of heavy praise.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 17 August)
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