Towards the Moon

Fri 10th – Sun 26th August 2012

reviews

Steve Hartill

at 20:40 on 12th Aug 2012

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Towards the Moon is an exciting project. Bringing in a Faustian approach to creativity and a struggling artist together with enthralling songs and an involving plot, the protagonist Bobby (Ryan Paterson) is involved in a car accident and has an out-of-body experience. The play showcases a selection of his memories. Bobby is comically confused by the singing antics of his best friend Sam (Douglas Walker) and an Angel, (Jocelyn Regina) who provides the Mephistopheles role to play off Bobby as Doctor Faustus. Bobby chooses “the path towards the moon”, one of isolation and darkness and eventual light, rather than “the path towards the sun”, in order to one day achieve his dreams and prove the naysayers wrong.

This then leads on to personal conflict with his ex-girlfriend Mandy (Fiona Carty) who is in a new relationship. But eventually, Bobby achieves artistic enlightenment and manages to complete the story. I have some problems with the plot. For example, Bobby’s final story that he works towards for the whole play ends up being a rehashing of his own experience which, in my opinion, is a very disappointing ending.

The songs are certainly impressive and well-written, while the whole cast are all very skilled singers. This is especially apparent in the ensemble pieces and they work well with the plot, although there may be too many songs and too few actual scenes.

The set is an intriguing spectacle with various collections of furniture representing scenes. For example, the bench shows a park scene, the table and seats create other scenes, and even the use of one table with only a sheet and briefcase on it becomes a bed. The lighting is fairly simple and the musical features are a nice touch with a pianist just off-stage providing background music throughout.

Though I was impressed by Towards the Moon and the actors’ fulfill their roles well, it isn’t a spectacular show. It is an interesting bit of philosophy on creativity but it unfortunately doesn't convert well to the stage.

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Lettice Franklin

at 07:51 on 13th Aug 2012

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Coming from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, One Academy Production's 'Towards the Moon', makes Scotland's homegrown talent its primary subject matter, telling the story of Bobby (Ryan Paterson), a writer with much potential living in Greenock. The musical does not show this talent only within its story, but is a powerful showcase of what this Scottish company has to offer. 'Towards the Moon' is an impressively slick piece of musical theatre, boasting shining performances from its stars and an unusual but effective low-key style.

Actors do not indulge in the over-blown, over-excited performances that we so often find in musical theatre. There is minimal dancing, and no monologues addressed to thin air. These stylistic decision are appropriate given Bobby's own love for realism - for "telling the story of my life" with no embellishment.

Paterson stands out as Bobby. His stage presence is commendably relaxed and he remains natural even at the heart of big, belting ballads. In the show's opening scene he seems positively baffled and vaguely irritated by the other characters' propensity to burst into song, seeming almost as if he's walked into a musical by mistake. The recogniton that this genre of theatre is somewhat weird works well rather than undermines it; the songs surrounding him become symbols of his distress, just as later they mark his triumph. Kylie McMahon also deserves praise: playing Bobby's best friend Mags, she does justice to a well-written part. While advocating bungee-jumping and LSD-taking, she has a warm, even magnetic stage presence.

Jocelyn Regina's performance as the angel was the one niggling annoyance in the casting. It is a tricky role to pull off - the script leaves the angel's presence inexplicable, and her angelic status not explicitly marked. Regina wears modern mufti, with leggings rather than wings. While this prevented 'Towards the Moon' becoming something close to a nativity play, it also created a need for the actress to permanently show her superhuman nature without help from costume or props; Regina does this by walking slowly and pointlessly around the stage, and by speaking similarly slowly with pointless repetitions of "I knooooow Bobby, I knowwww". This seems hammy in this otherwise impressively naturalistic musical.

The music is fittingly restrained, relying on ensemble choruses that work well and refrains that stick in the mind - I came away unable to stop singing. This musical's plot centres around the hive of potential creativity that is Scotland. While in Edinburgh, observe this for yourself in Andrew MacGregor's new musical, performed by this impressively professional cast.

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