There are some topics which are rarely tackled in theatre, and Alice Birch has chosen one and has attacked it head on.

Many Moons initially appears to be about love, as we are introduced to four characters all telling us about their experiences, or in their cases, lack of, with four sporadic and individual monologues.

Esther Hall played the pregnant, neurotic and lonely mother, caring for her youngest daughter in the absence of her adulterous husband. Ollie (Edward Franklin) is solid as the nervous, socially inept science geek who only once nearly had a sort of near sexual experience. Robert (Jonathan Newth) is an older man, caring for his wife, with the help of a nurse, and Esther Smith captures perfectly the character of Juniper; a Brummy optimist who constantly smiles and sees the good in everyone.

(SPOILER BELOW)

The introduction to this seemingly harmless piece doesn’t last for long, though, as we soon discover that Robert is a convicted paedophile. From then on the plot continues to thicken as we learn personal secrets, intimate fantasies and disturbing realities.

The actors have extremely tough jobs and sensitively play the emotionally complex characters. Despite their efforts it isn’t quite as hard hitting as it ought to be.

Unfortunately, it is uninteresting visually, and the writing doesn’t distract from this fact. There was not enough light for the shade, nor much room for crescendo. Though the direction was unimaginative, the script didn’t lend itself to much more inventive options; it (the script) has moments of beauty but equally moments that are far less inspired.

I found myself wishing Esther Smith would continue her monologues, each time it was her turn to step out of her freeze it was a relief and a blessing. Her high energy, humorous performance was a difficult one to follow. Unfortunately not for the right reasons, what I imagine was the desired effect, for the other three’s stories to be harder hitting and disturbing.

It wasn’t enough that the subject matter was dark and taboo, Many Moons had many twists but it left me feeling unaffected and only slightly uneasy.

Many Moons is playing at Theatre503 until