Venue: The Factory Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Aug 12 – 23, 2015
Playwright: Matt Cameron
Director: Johann Walraven
Cast: Pash Julian, Samantha Lee
Image by Jacob Strong
Matt Cameron’s Ruby Moon is a dark exploration into the human condition at extraordinarily difficult times. The Moon family experiences a profound loss, and we witness the manifestations that follow, in psychological and behavioural terms. Cameron’s writing is morbidly fascinating and very entertaining, with an unusual approach to the way we express bereavement. The script finds a beautiful balance between humour and anguish that allows for a thoroughly amusing theatrical experience in spite of its undeniable gravity. The strange dialogue and quirky characters are brilliantly constructed for a unique experience that can still engage our emotions.
Direction of the work by Johann Walraven brings an intrigue to the stage that befits the mysterious nature of Cameron’s play, and the unpredictability of the plot is successfully preserved in this incarnation. There are good attempts at offbeat comedy, but the haunting qualities of the text are not sufficiently explored. Design aspects are elegantly executed but they need to be pushed further for a stronger gothic feel to take hold that will help to provide greater drama. Also lacking in drama are its performances, which present insufficiently, the fundamental elements of sorrow and desperation that should feature prominently in the trauma that the Moons go through. However, both players Pash Julian and Samantha Lee show good focus, and demonstrate ability at versatility in the wide range of characters they inhabit.
The dark side of humanity is full of potential for any artist to create work that would communicate with satisfying depth, but we all have a special familiarity with personal pain that disallows any hint of falseness or inaccuracy when theatre decides to confront those inner demons. Ruby Moon is at its best when we catch glimpses of the unbelievable horrors that life is capable of delivering, but its lighter sections are also charming enough to retain our attention at other times, even if we do hanker for the nightmares to continue more powerfully for everyone concerned.