True to form, the latest production in the MTC’s educational program, Yellow Moon provides great stimulus for academic analysis while also providing quality entertainment for a wider audience.
Set in Scotland, but without acknowledgement via accent, David Greig’s drama centres around seventeen year-old Stag Lee (Luke Ryan), a typical youth with too much time on his hands and not enough direction in his life. Lee’s father abandoned his family when the boy was five. Now he’s all grown up, Lee gets scant consideration from his mother, nor her boyfriend who is always on Lee’s case.
One Friday night, while avoiding being at home, Lee happens across Leila, a withdrawn Muslim girl, at the 24-hour convenience store. Silent Leila (Naomi Rukavina), as he knows her, is busy ‘borrowing’ Heat magazine so she can read it in the loo while cutting herself in an effort to feel alive.
Lee’s cocky swagger somehow wins over the celebrity-obsessed, but mute girl and the pair soon find themselves sharing a bottle of booze in the local cemetery. Then a chance meeting with his mother’s drunken boyfriend leads to a fight and unexpected violence that there is no turning back from, causing Lee and Leila to flee the town in the cover of night.
Braving the chill of sleeping on the Scottish streets, and desperate for a plan, the pair seeks out the grand highland lodge featured on a postcard that is the only keepsake Lee has of his father.
Director Leticia Caceres has set the Lawler stage with a bank of seating on either side of the playing space, surrounding her performers and instructing them to circle the floor in a highly choreographed and very effective manner. There is immense finesse in the way Caceres has drilled her players, allowing the lyrical nature of the script that goes in and out of rhyming couplets to ebb and flow beautifully. Sound design from THE SWEATS is wonderfully evocative and seamlessly conducted by Stage Manager Jess Burns.
After finding the lodge and being given asylum by the caretaker, Lee and Leila become comfortable in their highland surroundings and with each other. Luke Ryan shows great intensity as Lee and pleasingly captures the arrogance of a teenager who’s all talk and no experience. Each of the characters, including Lee, take turns in narrating the action, giving Greig’s script a satisfyingly fable-like feeling; most satisfying being the inner monologues of Leila. Rukavina marvellously characterises the girl with heartbreaking emotional damage, yet an inner confidence that belies her outwardly hushed and timid demeanour.
Mark Constable and Daniela Farinacci give able and enjoyably effective performances as supporting characters, with Farinacci is particularly funny as a reality star in hiding at the lodge.
Greig’s story errs towards melodrama as it reaches its single act finale, but the shocking nature of the events that mark the conclusion of this play were certainly impactful on the teenage audience in attendance on opening night, suggesting this production and its writer both understand their target well.