by Jade Pathak
Luna is exactly what it describes itself as: ‘A Play About The Moon’. Through a series of sketches from characters ranging from sensible to kooky, our favourite satellite of the Earth is explained and questioned. A charming quality of Toby Hulse’s play is that it does not favour science over story, or vice versa. Luna is a pleasant balance between lessons about how the moon works, and the myths and mystery around it.
Luna’s driving forces of the story are Shae and Jean, played by Shaelee Rooke and originally Robin Hemmings, who is off and covered by Jean Goubert. They are two explorers on a mission to both teach the audience about the moon, and learn more about it themselves. Between Shae and Jon’s adventure are a variety of sketches including the moon and Earth themselves, a science teacher looking for love, and a werewolf.
While the loose narrative of these sketches in some moments help the surreal vibe of the show, it occasionally feels like there are too many characters to keep track of. Some of these sketches are excellent, particularly the actual Earth and Moon and Shae and Jon’s quest for more moon information. Both are interesting and contain some very funny jokes as well as short bursts of easy to retain educational material. However, some of the other sketches, while still educational and entertaining, are quite lengthy and a lot of the science was too quickly spoken for such a young audience. This was saved by sillier scenes of werewolves getting chased around the stage and moon-mad people with pants on their heads, something the younger ones like but do not land so well with the adults.
While some polishing of sketches may be needed, visually the play is incredibly lovely. The black cloth and vastness of the stage with the twinkling, colour-changing LED backdrop feels both moon-like and magical. Real recordings of Armstrong and the like are layered over moon-inspired music throughout the play and the clever moments of puppetry are unique and charming. Luna has a really pleasing aesthetic that combines a nostalgic, childlike ‘pretend’ flight to the moon with more sophisticated planetarium style lights, shadow and sound. I’d recommend the play on this alone.
While some of the science is a bit detail-heavy, children of all ages along with adults will still be entertained by this play. An admirable aspect of Luna is that every single sketch teaches the audience something about the history, science or mystery of the moon. Young children may not understand every scene completely, but they will learn something. It’s important for plays like this to exist and the effort and attention to detail Roustabout Theatre have put into Luna really shows. I look forward to seeing what this smart, young company produces in the future.
Luna runs through 1 March.
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