The Long Trick at The Wardrobe Theatre

The Long Trick, created in Association with Bucket Club, is Marietta Kirkbride’s new work about Cornwall, and how one man goes about taking it back.

Set in Helford, Cornwall, there are talks of a Robin Hood-like character – robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, by stealing from people’s second homes and giving back to the local community. Tristan considers this a protest, against people from the city taking the locals’ space and houses, against people as tourists in his own home. His motives are always blurry though, something that gets explored as the play goes on.

Living with Tristan, is his daughter Kelsey – quiet, shy, pouty. Home-schooled for much of the time, and tutored by Gail (the last in supposedly a long line of tutors that have come and gone). Gail is French-speaking, university-educated, and bohemian. Coming close to the only thing Kelsey could consider a female role model, Gail decides to live on the boat and continue her relationship with Tristan, and to help him in his biggest job so far – stealing an old Cornish painting back from someone’s (affluent, from London) second home. And again, her motives are always a little murky too – Tristan remarks a feeling of “unease” at one point.

If I’m honest, the play was a little slow for me, I did find it lagging in parts, and the content wasn’t something I necessarily connected with. I didn’t feel transported in the way I have with other shows. But the writing was lyrical, and rich, and how they work the songs into the show felt really organic. Their voices were beautiful, harmonising really wonderfully, and in some ways these were my favourite parts of the play.

The acting was great; really beautiful, really subtle. Martha Seignior (Kelsey) does a great job of making herself as small as possible, making Kelsey lonely and vulnerable, making her desperate for contact from anyone. Darcy Vanhinsbergh (Tristan) plays ‘world-weary’ rather beautifully and has enough wry sense of humour to break up some of the more emotional moments without taking away from them. Jessica Murrain (Gail) does great work of seeming otherworldly to Tristan and Kelsey, someone with lots of intent, someone travelled, someone involved with change.

Themes of gentrification and change are abound in this play, but that wasn’t really what I took away from it, I was more absorbed in the relationships between the people and in the subtleties of their performances. Regardless of what you take from it, I think you’ll take something, and that will be worth it.


The Long Trick runs at The Wardrobe Theatre until 1st March

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