‘Ruby Moon’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by April 5, 2015

‘Ruby Moon’ is a study of angst and its influence upon relationships. Written twelve years ago, by Melbournian Matt Cameron, it is an amazing example of contemporary theatre, a black comedy with a Brechtian interpretation. A surreal, Gothic whodunit.

The original play has one male cast member and one female; this version has nine, but makes the play the best adaptation that I have seen. This nightmarish tale uses minimal set and maximum open space; however, real people have this time replaced the normal pseudo shapes and symbolic techniques representing the narrated imageries.

This ARENAarts 90-minute gothic, psychodrama has humour and suspense. It has been fraught with illness, double booking, but the troupe has battled on to give a wonderful production. It can be seen at The Latvian Centre (LC Theatre), 60 Cleaver Terrace, Belmont (plenty of free parking) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00 pm with performances until 18th April.

Please note, NO performance on Easter Sunday or Monday.

 

The scene is contemporary, being based in and around a flat in Flaming Tree Grove, a down-market housing area. The sitting room on a 60 cms dais at the rear of the stage, and contains a coat stand, a standard lamp and a single comfortable armchair (design Louise Collins. Simon James). In front of the platform is a small white picket fence, suggesting the possible homely, secure atmosphere within; whilst at the rear, their sitting room wall is a stunning mural (Tim Prosser – carried onto the excellent poster by Aiden Carroll) filled with colour and confusion, a hint at the occupants’ minds.

At each side of the stage are more, smaller and lower podia, representing the flats and homes of the Moon family’s weird neighbours. The cast sat in their homes awaiting their turn. A child mannequin stands centre stage, wearing a red polka dot dress (a dress of full moons). Some great props from Linda Redman.

 

      A little girl (Angelina Aung Than) in a red polka dot dress stands on the stage apron and tells the audience that she is Ruby Moon, and the tale they are about to hear is like a fairytale (indeed heavily based on ‘Little Red Riding Hood’).

       The paranoid Sylvie Moon (Natalie Aung Than) is sitting at home and as usual, is filled with grief and tension. Many months ago, her young daughter had left their home to visit her Grandma, but had never reached her destination, a dilemma Sylvie has still not even started to come to terms with. When her distraught, but stable husband, Ray (Justin Crossley) staggers home clutching a broken umbrella, she is far too trapped in her never-ending cycle of grief, to even consider giving him a welcoming kiss. Neither of them can move on with their lives.

      For the thousandth time they decide to go over the facts. Someone in their street MUST have seen Ruby and so, frustrated by lack of police progress, they visit each eccentric neighbour in turn. The elderly Christian, Miss Doily (Giordarna Rigoli – most convincing as an old woman) and her beloved parrot, were first on the list. She hinted that beautiful Ruby might not have been as righteous as the parents think. Then came Sid Craven (Eamonn Skov – a complex character, perfectly portrayed) a tragic, lonely magician – but could he be a paedophile in clown’s clothing?

      Across the street lived Veronica Vale (Emily Theseira – tremendously tantalising) a sexy strumpet who was watched undressing each evening by her neighbour, an injured soldier, Sonny Jim (Luke Eastman – great chip on shoulder aggro). Near the end of Flaming Tree Grove cul-de-sac was their strange baby-sitter, Dawn (Claire Mosel – creepy) a troubled girl who related more worrying tales about Ruby. Almost as soon as Sylvie entered the home of scientist, Carl Ogle (Don Callison – powerful) she knew her troubles were coming to an end.

 

The moody, dim lighting designed by Simon James, the realistic, delicate sound effects, recorded by Tim Prosser and operated by Joshua Harris, were subtle and most realistic giving true depth to the whole production.

I have not quite connected with previous versions of this superbly written, complex look at the private minds of grieving parents. However here, director Louise Collins assisted by Bradley Camm, has selected two, most convincing main actors who, by having given fantastic clarity to the parents’ minds and their schizophrenic mood swings, have really conquered the depth and complexity of this story. At times the audience may have been sitting confused as to what was going on, wondering will it ever make sense? However, in the end, everyone will have left ‘satisfied’ with a clear conclusion.

A very difficult play to stage but carried out by a tremendously strong team, acting in perfect harmony. Each player knew his or her character perfectly and truly brought the play to life.

An excellent piece of theatre, try to catch one of the last couple of nights.