Man on the Moon

Keisha Thompson’s Man on the Moon at Contact is effectively a short story that has been developed into a theatre show.  And it is an engaging, beautifully written story that has the quality and depth to hold the attention for well over an hour.  I suppose it’s called Man on the Moon because it’s both about a distant father and the invisible pull that he exerts on Keisha’s life, like the moon’s gravity.  The stage is strewn with piles of books which form an integral part of the show, and formed the key mechanism by which her father communicated with her; he would post books on topics such as science and philosophy through her letterbox.

The narrative is punctuated with poetry, music and direct audience address.  Sometimes the narrative becomes poetic and these become vivid moments of expression and imagery.  There are also sections where Keisha uses looped sounds and her own voice to create musical segments to add texture to the piece.  And there is an opening section that explores names and numerology – raising questions of identity and beliefs within ‘Black Britishness’ and ‘otherness’.  Moving moments of observation offer an insight into how people from different backgrounds are perceived, no more so than the passage where Keisha sits on a Manchester bus in the rain.

The overall effect is slightly surreal and detached, an acceptance of a personal situation that is complex and difficult to comprehend but one which on reflection called out for some form of intervention.  If I have one criticism it is that the ‘science’ thread should be stronger.  The opening scene on numerology is superb, combining science with mysticism, as is the closing scene where the narrator defies gravity, but the explanation of the moon’s effect on the earth lacks conviction.

But this is a moving, brilliantly written and well structured narrative on a fascinating subject.  There are strong, original ideas in here, and a clear message about how people can become isolated from society on account of race.

Contact, Manchester, 21-25 November 2017, then on tour.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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