Howling Moon

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2011

reviews

David Knowles

at 12:40 on 20th Aug 2011

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Howling Moon is Narnia meets Inception. A girl (suitably mentally scarred) falls asleep and wakes in the forest ‘of her mind’, which is shown through the chorus waving their painted arms around. To get out of this forest she must overcome her own internal barriers, represented through the wolf, and look at the sky. Confused? You should be. Howling Moon explores an entertaining concept poorly. Like a bad episode of Doctor Who loose ends are left untied and entire plot twists unexplained. That I actually rather enjoyed myself, reclining in the comfy chairs provided is testament to some of the talent of the performers rather than the script.

The wolf, played by Joshua Littlewood, was for me the stand out part of this show, his deep, growling voice complimented perfectly a wonderful costume. His movement was generally fine but nothing too imaginative. The Fox, played by Odinn Hilmarsson, was, for me, rather weak. He played the part with wonderful energy but became frantic and unclear towards the middle of the performance. Gemma Whitham as Maggie didn’t quite get to the emotional core of her part but rather shouted her way through the show. Shouting rather than acting is something I have seen a lot of this fringe and unfortunately Howling Moon falls into this trap.

There were some wonderful moments in this show. The tracks that appeared on the walls that lit up in the dark were truly mesmerizing and the ballet dance breaks were accomplished and graceful. Some other moments did also convinced, the death of the fox for example. However the biggest problem was for me the lack of pace or sustained energy in many of the long scenes. I genuinely thought that the play would finish at the death of the fox; however it continued to meander on to a fairly unsatisfactory conclusion.

Should you go and see this show then? It depends, if you are willing to put the problems with the script, concept and certain individual performances aside and enjoy the spectacle, Howling Moon is for you. If, however any of those things mean anything to you, avoid it.

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Ellen Marsh

at 10:51 on 21st Aug 2011

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When you enter the almost derelict C Soco studio for Howling Moon you are shown to your seats by members of the cast. Before the play starts you have time to take in the smoky atmosphere and the forest background. At this point, you’re pretty aware that you’re in for something a bit unusual.

Howling Moon is set in a mysterious forest, with talking animals and dancing trees. The human perspective is provided by Maggie (Gemma Whitham), who throughout struggles to work out whether or not she is in a dream. When it does become clear that there is more to her experience than this, the audience is led to understand what the psychological reasons behind the forest are.

The costumes in Howling Moon are amazing – particularly those for Fox and Wolf. The actors, especially Joshua Littlewood as Wolf, match these with wonderful physicality and vocal work that creates their characters in entirety. The trees are played entirely through movement, but of the four actors playing trees only Matthew Lecznar is completely committed and therefore completely convincing in his movement. Whitham, as Maggie, is the most reliant on the script for her portrayal and this helps to establish a difference between her and the more fantastical-seeming elements and so makes these accessible to the audience.

The concept of Howling Moon, and the way it is portrayed is interesting, but it is has a major flaw - it is too long. Many of the scenes are repetitive, and as an audience member I found myself wondering why a particular confrontation had to happen so many times. After this long build-up, the ending seems abrupt and rushed, almost as though the original piece was too long and instead of cutting parts throughout, the final few scenes were heavily cut instead. If the play’s running time were 50 minutes as opposed to 1 hour 10, Howling Moon may well be worth four stars.

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