In the light of the Blue Moon

By Dave Mann

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘blue moon’? A blue moon could be something beautiful, something scary, a symbol of lunacy, or simply a rarity. Representing this year’s Young Director’s Season, Megan Grace Wright’s Blue Moon could be said to be all of these things.

A thick mist frames the stage, inhabited by a wooden walkway and illuminated by an ethereal blue light in Wright’s dark and satirical work. Blue Moon is a South African adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina. The opening scene of the play sees the iconic death of the story’s protagonist, catapulting the audience straight into the tale with chilling authority.

From here, you are taken through the Russian novel, translated to a local context with added humour and well placed South African anecdotes. Taking kernels of truth from Tolstoy’s work, Blue Moon provides a social commentary on the Russian and South African upper class shown through the manors of the wealthy, the grandstands of “The Moscow July”, and the whispered conversations of high society’s socialites and snobs.

Wright and her cast make use of narrative storytelling, chorus work, and beautifully timed choreography to a well-crafted, Victorian soundscape. This is coupled with period style costumes with an African flair to bridge the classic Russian story into a contemporary localised product.

The play’s brilliant use of lighting has much to do with the presentation of the story and its seamless scene transitions. Striking moments such as the graphic killing of the race horse and title characters, Blue Moon, after she breaks her back shock the audience into contemplative silence, opening up a room for commentary on the morality of human beings in contemporary society. These scenes take place under a cobalt blue glow, illustrating the recklessness of human nature and looking at the different ways people deal with the consequences of their actions after the haze of the ‘blue moon’ is lifted.

A thoughtful social satire with a distinctly macabre undertone, Blue Moon is 30 minutes of heavily loaded, classic literature, shaped into a great piece of student theatre, expertly translating the novel’s themes of love, betrayal, and mortality onto stage.

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