Moth looks at what happens when young people become outsiders at school; when they are bullied for being different.  What are the consequences when this is wrapped up with mental health issues?  Ransack Theatre bring Australian Declan Greene’s play Moth to the delightful surroundings of Hope Mill Theatre.

The play is constructed entirely by the two superb actors who develop the story with brilliant variations of pace over the ninety minutes.  Claryssa (Charlotte Gascoyne) and Sebastian (Alastair Michael) are on the fringes of school life; she loves poetry and is somewhat emo; he is just different.   He creates an alternative world in his head to protect himself from the bullying and abuse; but creating the alternative world has dire consequences.  They need each other yet fall out.   I love how the play sits half way between two kids recounting the story as they saw it, and a play showing the actual story.  Very clever.

But the script is flawed.  Claryssa’s world is well described and convincing, we can see how she interacts with the wider environment, and how she has been shaped.  Sebastian’s world is not sufficiently defined.  We are intrinsically moulded by our environment, especially our home environment, and that doesn’t come out in Sebastian’s dialogue.  This makes it difficult to empathise with his journey; he feels at times a caricature of the loner rather than a human being.

Visually and stylistically this is a beautiful production, directed by the talented Piers Black-Hawkins.  On the floor a condensed sports pitch has been marked out, placing the central event.  On the end wall and ceiling a neon/fluorescent rig that could grace a gallery; at the other end, floodlights.  Sound flows in and out with eerie power.    The audience sit either side, which mainly makes for good sight except when the action retreats to one end.

A beautiful production of a powerful but flawed script.  The images stay with you long after the end, and that’s the best test of how well a play works.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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