At first glance, there may seem like there aren’t many similarities between marriage and space travel. But according to Gillian Cosgriff in her new show To The Moon and Back, they are just as distant and confusing as each other; both lead to amazing discoveries, but also death.
Cosgriff spacewalks onto the stage in a NASA suit, complete with helmet, and taps a microphone on her head. It’s silly, but you soon work out she is actually recording a beat that becomes the skeleton of a song via the cunning use of a loop pedal. There is genuine joy from Cosgriff when she gets the thing to work, and the relationship with the audience is born through a shared celebration of getting complex technology to work.
A song and monologue set the tone for the show: a rapid-fire script and lyrics that is met with the kind of energetic, casual delivery you might find coming from a friend who’s onto their second glass of bubbles.
“Space is not that far away”, says Cosgriff. 100km, apparently. “If you could get in your car and drive up you could get to the moon in an hour.” Turns out she is terrified of space, and has turned to exposure therapy to overcome her fear.
Space chat is the central theme of the first half of the show. She talks about inhabiting Mars – “we don’t deserve a whole other planet! …This should be met with stern parenting: There will be no inter-planetary exploration until you clean up the mess in the Middle East.” Climate change is dealt with with a deft but light touch, culminating in a jazzy, Broadway-style (appropriately panicked) musical number about the best summer of our lives.
She talks about anxiety and launches into another number about an annoying trainee yoga teacher who insists on listing all your possible worries just so you can breathe them out. There could have been a bit more done to invest the audience more heavily in this song; Cosgriff’s insistence that we all breathe together is on the right track but falls a bit flat.
A beautiful and genuinely surprising costume change is a bit of stage magic Cosgriff describes as “the single greatest thing I have achieved in my life”. The second half of the show tackles marriage, including the concept of The Headless Groom, referring to the wedding that girls spend their whole lives planning out, just waiting for the man with the right head to come along to complete the picture.
Cosgriff’s exploration of the terror of loving someone forever and the fear of doing things now that your future self will look back and laugh at brought the show to a lovely conclusion. Her song about her past selves used the loop pedal to great effect – including a three-part vocal harmony.
Cosgriff is a smart, perceptive comedian with a great ability to barrel on through the flatter moments and bring everyone along with her. She knows how to use her voice as a nuanced instrument, not just as a showy gimmick, and it is this that brings an extra layer of meaning to her comedy.
To The Moon and Back is a sharp, witty and endearing journey that will help you join dots, make you laugh, and leave you with plenty of things to think about and a few jaunty tunes to hum on the way home.