Hope Mill Theatre
Sometimes theatre yields a little bit of magic. There was a buzz and a whizz and and and…….. Imagining how Claryssa and Sebastian would have reacted if they were in the audience for Moth instead of on the stage tonight. This is the stuff of nightmares whether we were once bullied as teenagers or we fear our children might be. Declan Greene creates a sense of the horrors of being teenage misfits and bravely portrays the two young actors to the audience with no attempt to engage our sympathy or affection.
This is a great production by Ransack Theatre which is visually stunning. The seating of the audience is akin to sitting either side of a gym hall or sports field so we are quickly immersed in the school setting. Floodlights at one end plus a giant cocoon-like duvet and an elaborate cave structure of lights and strobes at the other end. The lighting by Matt Leventhall is seriously impressive for a smaller theatre and is used brilliantly by director Piers Black-Hawkins to convey the disintegration of relationships and ultimately of sanity.
Charlotte Gascoigne is perfect as emo Claryssa who likes poetry and kind of tolerates Sebastian but also rages at the world and can flit from acts of kindness to vicious acts and violence. Sebastian is that weird, hyperactive kid who smells different to us as though our animal selves know to either separate from or simply annihilate such individuals. Interestingly Schizophrenia is one of a handful of medical conditions humans can detect by smell and in early onset often manifests with visual illusions. The strangely tender yet dispassionate moments of spitting into the handkerchief also suggest a sickly boy who may be suffering from cystic fibrosis. This is not going well for Sebastian or Claryssa with or without the gleaming moth of Saint Sebastian.
This is at times confusing and frustrating but somehow that doesn’t really matter. The audience will probably tell very varied stories of what actually happens on stage. The end result is still a brilliantly constructed piece with some stunning physical theatre that pulsates with the light and soundscape. Not to be missed.
Running until April 22nd