The Moon Sails Out ***

The Moon Sails Out is an impressionistic short play about the artistic life of Federico Garcia Lorca.  It doesn’t have much of a plot but still manages to be an impassioned love letter to a writer that many consider to be one of the 20th century’s greatest.

The play mostly looks at Lorca’s friendship with two other notable figures: artist Salvador Dali and filmmaker Luis Bunuel.  However, rather than giving a linear retelling of the facts, here Lorca is haunted by Dali and Bunuel as he awaits execution.  We are given snippets of action that hint at each personality and how such a friendship was first productive but then destructive.  Because of this, it is best to not try figuring anything out but instead to sit back and enjoy each moment.

And each moment is well orchestrated by director Ed Robson.  There is an impressive parade of images that dance around the Cumbernauld stage, and the combination of design, performance and movement makes for some arresting images.  Some are better than others, but the whole production teems with interesting creativity.

Imogen Toner makes for a rather good Lorca.  She plays him as a quiet person whose inner conflicts, mostly fuelled by parental and sexual acceptance, almost handicap a passionate artist.  However, she is upstaged by Jonny Austin’s over-the-top Dali and James McAnerney’s sinister Bunuel.  Austin and McAnerney have all the big moments and enjoy chewing the stage, leaving Toner with little to do but react until the final, Lorca-centred ending.

It may be more Dali-esque in its vision, but The Moon Sails Out is still a well-intentioned celebration of a great writer.  It may be short in context, but it is a very inventive play that is never boring.

Run ended.

Originally written for Onstage Scotland.


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