6th February-3rd March 2018
by Catherine Lucie
Directed by Blythe Stewart
I have a soft spot for pub theatre.
To compete with the elements, the space, the noise of the pub and the traffic and outside world. Fringe shows put together by people who are passionate about creating and putting together things with limited time or funding.
It always makes me feel like the girl who visited the Edinburgh Fringe at 15 years old and thought; ‘Phwoar! This is bloody exciting’
How then, have Rive Production’s ‘The Moor’ managed to expand and evolve the dimensions of the Old Red Lion Theatre to a vast space of land?
This did not at one moment feel like ‘pub theatre’.
It felt epic.
I walked into the space pre show and took a breath. Cliched but true.
I was utterly impressed and surprised at Holly Pigott’s innovative design. She managed to transform a small space into the world of the Moor. It felt reminiscent of Johannes Schütz’s epic and deteriorating design for Benedict Andrew’s Three Sister’s at the Young Vic in 2012.
Rubble swept the back of the stage, a very minimalist house setting and rotating muted Moor designed backdrops that hung from the ceiling (eventually moved by the actors when passing to alter the space).
It really brought us to the Moor and engaged us with the changes and shifts in space, world and time.
Bronagh, a young woman isolated in a vaste expanse of land; The Moor.
Feeling increasingly claustrophobic, incited by her surroundings, relationship, child and life, then becomes involved in an investigation with the police which starts to invade her own life and mind.
This was a fight for her own sanity.
Jill McAusland’s Bronagh was perfection. We as the audience felt like an extension of her mind. She spoke to us as if to herself. Childlike, innocent and silently tortured by her own life.
Being in the same space as her boyfriend, Graeme (Oliver Britten) for the first time, I saw a woman who kissed her partner for her own salvation. There was a tango going on between them; who would win? Her mind or his brutish and simplistic nature. Her desperation was palpable.
Another element of the design which worked so well, was the faceless, weighted anonymous baby of Bronagh and Graeme’s. It added a whole other element to her world and mind slowly falling apart, as although I believed entirely the baby was real (thanks to Bronagh’s great connection with it) it’s facelessness brought me further into her psyche.
Jonny Magnanti’s Pat (the police officer working with Bronagh) was paternal, grounded and real. This wasn’t a ‘police officer’; this was a man with his own world going on whose own past intertwined with Bronagh’s.
This show’s great juxtaposition of a woman living in a vast countryside space, yet feeling so utterly isolated was truly resonating. This was a testament to the excellence of Catherine Lucie’s writing, beautifully crafted into a truly breathing and living world by Blythe Stewart’s direction.
I am drawn back to my interview with Blythe Stewart, and how great theatre makes you question your own life and your own world views. What is real and unreal?
This show was entirely ambitious and managed to achieve every one of it’s ambitions.
I see a great future for this play.