MOON PROJECT

An ethereal blue light greets you as you walk into the Ovalhouse theatre. In the pool of darkness, a single table and two chairs are illuminated. It’s almost cinematic. The atmosphere is dreamlike and the mood is set. Space. An infinity of discovery and the unknown. Inspired by space travel and radical shifts in perspective, Moon Project is written by Rachel Blackman and produced by the Stillpoint Theatre Company.

Leila (Blackman), an aeronautical engineer, and Shahab (Jules Munns), a film maker, tell the story of themselves and their lives, all centred around the day they meet in a hit-and-run car crash. What strikes you first is the ambience. The unity of the light and the music create an aura of energy. Coupled with the dynamic performances of Blackman and Munns, Moon Project is visually captivating. Second, it’s the characters. Blackman’s performance as Leila is overwhelmingly real. There is a very honest quality to her acting. Much of the same goes for Munns’s performance as Shahab, which is funny and engaging. Together, they create a thoughtful, energetic and enthralling performance.

The way they tell their stories is refreshing, which is probably the third thing you notice. There are presentations, inner-monologues, music sequences and flashbacks. The chronology jumps about as well, which is at times difficult to follow but allows the story to develop so much further, and controls the amount shared with the audiences so that we can think alongside the characters and become much more invested in them and their stories.

Yet throughout it all, the underlying focus on the collision of these two people and the effect this has on their lives is what’s fascinating. Drawing on astronomical influences, the play explores the kind of experiences that have the power to change your perspective, even your life’s direction. The concepts introduced are endlessly thought-provoking, expanding the open mind. Perhaps the most powerful moment of the play is the voiceover from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, which, if nothing else, you should absolutely listen to. (Seriously, this voiceover has more than 5,000,000 hits on YouTube. You will feel overwhelmingly inspired after you hear it. I’m pretty sure the size of your brain will even increase. Are you persuaded yet?)

Moon Project the kind of play that occupies your brain long after you leave the theatre. And if you go, remember to take a notebook and pen. Almost as interesting as the play itself are the conversations you have on the way home.

Moon Project is playing Ovalhouse until 16 November. For more information and tickets, see the Ovalhouse Theatre website. Photo by Geraint Lewis.