Michelle Gayle plays a moving role

Michelle Gayle plays a moving role

Hopelessly Devoted by Kate Temple at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn High Road, London

Paines Plough and Birmingham Repertory Theatre bring a new production by Kate Tempest to the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn.

Chess (Cat Simmons) is in prison serving a long sentence for killing her violent husband; she has lost contact with her daughter.

Her cellmate, Serena (Gbemisola Ikumelo) who has become her soulmate is given parole and released, leaving Chess alone. Chess is known throughout the prison for her singing and her name is put forward to work with a music producer Silver (Michelle Gayle) to create works to be performed for the prison audience.

Hopelessly Devoted_100Silver has her own demons of alcoholism and drug dependency to work through and the two begin to build trust in order to create the songs and music.

A well meaning gesture by Serena to try to contact Chess’s daughter backfires, and the trust between Chess and Silver breaks down with the result that Chess attempts suicide.

The three actors work well together and the relationship between Chess and Serena is well handled, moving from affectionate to angry.

Both have issues around their children, Chess has lost touch with her daughter; Serena is scared about renewing her relationship with hers after her release.

The relationship between Chess and Silver moves from mistrust to trust back to mistrust when Chess believes that Silver has betrayed her over her song.

The music and songs are powerful, but at times the lyrics are overshadowed by the music which comes from an electronic synthesiser. The final song, sung by the three cast members is a very moving letter to Chess’s thirteen year old daughter.

The play is eighty minutes long, straight through without an interval, but I could have watched it for much longer.

by Ruth Jellings