LUNA GALE To 18 July.


by Rebecca Gilman.

Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue Swiss Cottage NW3 3EU To 18 July 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed 2.30pm Sat 3pm.
Audio-described 17 July.
Captioned 14 July (+ transcribed post-show discussion).
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7722 9301.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 June.

Complex elements skilfully structured through drama that holds attention.
At the end of Michael Attenborough’s production we finally see the title character of American dramatist Rebecca Gilman’s play. Or, we don’t, but the baby whose name evokes lunatics plus turbulent winds lies becalmed in her pram. Adults have been swirling about her. Everybody loves Luna. Even if events start with her in an emergency ward.

Seven adults are swept into her story; at least six have something to hide. Apart, possibly, from Pastor Jay. He may not be sympathetic to all, but he’s the only one without a hidden agenda; he openly wants the world to find Jesus. Corey Johnson’s performance suggests a physical power restrained by the nature of his belief.

Unlike Ed Hughes’ social-work supervisor Cliff, his influence on Luna’s fate coloured by casually revealed religious views. An overbearing bully in a slight, brisk figure, someone whose ticks remain firmly in their pre-designated boxes, Cliff is at odds temperamentally with Luna’s caseworker, Caroline.

Who has her own potential bias, with the professional never entirely free of the individual. She clashes with Luna’s grandmother, still merely middle-aged and deeply Christian. She’d seem the perfect person to adopt a baby whose parents are uncontrolled and barely adults. Apart from the mysteriously empty fridge and a secret that looms into view from the past.

Luna’s parents, Karlie and Peter, can hardly control themselves. At the start Rachel Redford’s Karlie shouts and bangs to get her way, yet has a struggling element of responsibility. Peter slumps initially in drugged semi-consciousness. Yet – and it’s something Alexander Arnold’s seemingly unassertive, yet carefully considered performance allows to emerge scene-by-scene – Peter is potentially the child’s best hope.

With enough issues and conflicts to staff a series, Gilman assembles her structure and builds her characters to create a single coherent drama. Only a secondary story seems a bolt-on, though its three-part tale of decline emphasises the vulnerability of recovery and adds to the cares of Caroline.

Sharon Small clearly shows the pressures on her character and the struggle to chart her way through a job where separating work and life can come close to impossible.

Karlie: Rachel Redford.
Peter: Alexander Arnold.
Caroline: Sharon Small.
Cindy: Caroline Faber.
Lourdes: Abigail Rose.
Cliff: Ed Hughes.
Pastor Jay: Corey Johnson.

Director: Michael Attenborough.
Designer: Lucy Osborne.
Lighting: Jon Clark.
Sound: John Leonard.
Dialect coach: Charmian Hoare.
Assistant director: Milli Bhata.
Assistant lighting: Jack Weir.

2015-06-24 13:01:33

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