The Moonchild – Productions Review

I know I have said it before and was proven wrong, but this time I genuinely believe that COVID restrictions are finally on there way out in the UK. Nightclubs have been able to reopen, theatres can put on live performances (as proven by my most recent review of The Rocky Horror Picture show available at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/02/13/rocky-horror-production-review/) and there was an announcement recently that in just under a month it will no longer be mandatory to wear a mask in most public spaces. During the lockdowns, however, everyone was encouraged to stay at home which meant that theatre creatives had to find a way to create new work from home which lead to a new sub-genre of theatre being developed via zoom. While many theatre companies looked at move to zoom as simply a desperation move so actually cleverly used the platform to not just make it a method of delivering theatre but also a key part of the story. Sharp teeth theatre’s trilogy of online murder mystery events managed to use many of zooms functions to create a totally immersive, unique and cohesive show which you can read about at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/12/03/sherlock-in-holmes-iii-production-review/ to show the genius way they incorporated the platform into the show itself! If other production companies can take a page out of Sharp teeth’s playbook then I see no reason that zoom based theatre cannot stay around for a while as it allows viewers to access shows from all over the world which we otherwise would not be able to see!

Moonchild is the second play that I have reviewed that has been created by the talented Matteo Esposito with the first being ‘The Mix up’ which was a hilarious case of mistaken identity and you can read about at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/10/02/the-mix-up-production-review/. It is clear that every one of Matteo’s projects are passion projects that he has worked hard to craft/create and the love for his own work shines through every show I have seen so far! This show is based in the poem also titled ‘Moon Child’ and tells the story of a young person with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) who has dreams of becoming a celebrated artist but his father does not agree with this career choice. This classic debate of whether or not a career in the arts a viable career choice is something that every person in this sector will experience at some point especially with the global lockdown situation we have all been facing over the based two years.

In this performance, the lead role of Harry is played by Riley Prayder who manages to touch on many key elements of ASD in young people without seeming tokenistic or for the purpose of ticking a box! Their performance managed to showcase the innocence of young people who captured the complexity of ASD and also allowed for great sympathy for the viewers. His father (played by James Donlley) does not support his son passion for art and so challenges him to create the most marvellous piece of artwork to prove that he could do this as permanent career. The journey for unsupportive to his son’s biggest fan must be very difficult to convey especially considering they are probably miles apart but James managed to portray this perfectly! While working on this picture Harry receives help and support from a rather unique person … the moon. Lamar Overton gives a unique performance of the moon as an authority and encouraging figure who encourages Harry to peruse him dream. This was one of the only characters who had a backdrop that was a visual reminder that he was playing the celestial object! This character acts of a mentor/ point of authority who offers pearls of wisdom throughout such as FAIL standing for the first attempt in learning and explaining some of the discrimination people will ASD experience!

Overall, this was a heartwarming play that touches in many key themes throughout. As a first officially read through this play showed a lot of promise and had managed to adapt to the virtual genre perfectly. The show contained a narrator who explained the set changes, prop arrangement, lighting and costume which was very important considering everyone was in very different locations. I would rate this production 3.5 stars out of 5 but am sure when performed live, the message behind it will be even more powerful!

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