On the night of the moon landing, dreamer Sylvia Moone loses her virginity to an unnamed astronaut. 86 years later, her granddaughter of the same name, is just that, a NASA astronaut travelling to Mars. Stretching from 1969 to 2017 to 2055, Andrew Thompson’s debut play – and the winner of Theatre503’s 2016 Playwriting Award – forces you to travel time and space, as he sweeps you up into the whirlwind that is three generations of the Moone family and the repercussions that follow that eventful night.
Rosie Wyatt is a tour de force as she embodies the multiple incarnations of Sylvia Moone, taking on past, present and even the future when she plays Sylvia’s own granddaughter. Wyatt switches effortlessly from 1969 to 2017 and then perfectly takes on the futuristic leap to 2055.
What could have easily been clunky – costume changes take place in full view on stage – manages to feel seamless and this is largely down to Wyatt’s talent. That said, it must be noted that her Sylvia of the past is by far the strongest and at points her cold Sylvia of the future seems to lack the emotional depths that her 1969 Sylvia does, relying instead on deadpan moments of humour that the wide-ranging script provides.
An almost faultless cast supports Wyatt. In Event of Moone Disaster is that rare beast as you will be hard-pressed to find a weak link. Thomas Pickles as the lovesick Dennis, desperately wanting to do right by the headstrong and pregnant Sylvia of 1969, is almost cartoonish as he stands forlorn, staring out to the audience in his brown corduroy and mop of curly hair. His wide-eyed and innocent performance balances Wyatt’s manipulative dreamer, Sylvia.
While, in 2017, Will Norris and Alycia Eyo as Sylvia’s son Neil and his wife Julie, are nothing short of magnificent as they capture the raw emotion of a couple unable to have a child and the shadow that that pain casts on their relationship. It is this narrative that truly pulls at the audience’s heartstrings, and their intimate connection is one of the strongest in the whole piece, delivering some of the most poignant, as well as some of the most humorous, moments.
Designer Sarah Beaton’s set is all simple, smooth lines and clever lighting, which although plays perfectly into Sylvia, the astronaut’s 2055 future, also acts as the ideal blank canvas for all three timeframes. In its slick minimalism, Beaton’s backdrop manages to slide the audience back and forth through the ever-shifting narrative without drawing attention to their surroundings.
Pithy, bittersweet and rather beautiful, this ambitious new play from Andrew Thompson lives up to Theatre503’s stellar record for showcasing the best new talent. This is a must-see that demands a visit to Battersea this October.
In Event of Moone Disaster is playing at Theatre503 until October 23.
Photo: Jack Sain