By Catherine Hart
The Magnificent Man in the Moon is a tale of existential crisis. Directed and written by Bridget Sanders it is a local show with heartwarming and relatable themes.
The script is well-written, despite the intention behind the character of the moon being unclear. The show could be reflective of the cycle of the moon each month, or it could be one moment of moon’s life. Whatever the purpose, his struggles are real, and the audience are with him for the ride.
The set is simple yet perfectly suited to the action. Every item on stage seems to be used in more than one way, while fitting into the general aesthetic of the show. A beautiful moment is witnessing the moon waning through its cycles with the use of a torch.
Accompanying the action are the melodic pangs from a harp played by Annemieke Harmonie. Our main indication that the harp is live is Harmonie walking onto stage before the the action begins (a bit of an odd moment, but nonetheless it provokes a laugh from the audience for its absurdity).
The Man in the Moon is depicted by Roger Sanders, a Nelson local with a captivating energy. His character is well-defined in his movement, voice and costume, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing the character as effectively. His cheeky tone and boisterous movements are both engaging and endearing.
Playing all of the supporting characters is Karolina Gorton, and she is wonderful. Each of her characters is well-defined and has a different purpose in the action. The switches between her characters are often quick, but she manages to change costumes quickly and seamlessly.
My largest critique with the show is the depiction of the female moon. As the moon only spends a brief amount of time in a female form (and I wonder if this is referring to a woman’s monthly blood?); it is done stereotypically. Being female is apparently the equivalent of wearing high heels and a ridiculous wig, speaking in a squeaky high-pitched tone, applying lipstick in a mirror and flicking a scarf over a shoulder. Personally, I feel that if the show was attempting to portray a woman’s relationship with the moon it would have been better realised by acknowledging our reproductive power, and the nurturing yet painful symptoms that come along with it.
Although it has dark themes, I can see this production working as a kids show. Its energy, comedy and physical movement would translate well for a younger audience, and the darker jokes would satisfy any parent coming along for the ride.
The Magnificent Man in the Moon is a play with purpose, dealing with real life issues despite the mythology behind the story.
To read more about The Magnificent Man in the Moon, click here.