FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON
by Maureen Hunter.
The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to 13 June 2017.
Performances Sunday, Monday & Tuesday 7.30pm. Mat Tues 2pm
Runs 2hr 15 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: William Russell 29 May.
Superbly performed and very moving
The Finborough has a policy of showcasing Canadian drama and this award winning 1988 play by Maureen Hunter is getting what looks like a long overdue British premier. It is also blessed with a stunningly good, powerful and moving performance in the leading role of Joanie from Anne Adams.
The play deserves a longer run by any standards so one can but hope – and so does she and a strong supporting cast.
Joanie lives in a small prairie town, the kind of place back then where people spent their lives, everyone knew everyone else’s business and it seemed – on the surface at least – idyllic although the trains blowing their hooters as they passed by hinted at somewhere else out there which might be better. She is a single parent. Her husband left her 13 years before and her 16 year old daughter – she goes for holidays with her father in Toronto – is due home. Joanie is at the station waiting and enjoying the fact she has won a prize for writing an account of life in her township, snatches of which we hear in voice over. It is warm, happy and all lies, but everybody is congratulating her for telling them what they want to hear.
When Carol-Ann, an impressive Sally Cheng, arrives she makes quite clear she has no intention of staying with mother any longer. She wants life with father and she has no time for Joanie’s prairie boyfriend, a mother obsessed relationship denying hunk played by Derek Hagen. From there on things unravel as we learn more about Joanie’s past, the mother who walked out when she was a child, who now haunts her dreams, and the fact she has no idea why husband Boone left. It is a painful journey and Joanie’s disintegration from hard working loving mother to drunken sexually promiscuous slut – the house is a tip and she is sleeping with anyone who comes to hand – is movingly charted by Anne Adams. There is one friend, a butch and all girls together pants wearing chum called Beryl who tries to help. Beryl, conjured up perfectly by Samantha Coughlan, is an accepted “character”, has painted her house purple, who has at least left town once, while Joanie never has.
It all comes clear when – no surprise as the cast list is small – husband Boone, a damaged and unhappy Nicholas Goh, turns up bringing Carol-Ann back. Both want something neither can have.
Directed with sensitivity by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour it is a play about love, lost illusions, dreams of somewhere better and the selfishness of people who has lost something and cannot face it happening again. The run is far too short. One can but hope another home is found. As for the footsteps – they were left by the astronauts and will be there for ever, which is what Joanie wants for herself , a place where things do not change.
Joanie: Anne Adams.
Dunc Carr: Derek Hagen.
Carol-Ann: Sally Cheng.
Beryl: Samantha Coughlan.
Boone: Nicholas Goh.
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour.
Designer: Charlotte Henery.
Lighting Designer: Peter Harrison.
Sound & Music: Lucinda Mason Brown.