The four-man Rhum and Clay Theatre Company deliver a fresh and innovative performance in their physical theatre piece ‘The Man in the Moone’. Featured at the Edinburgh Fringe, their unique style is effortlessly likeable even if it is not immediately understood. Centering around one man’s (played by Julian Spooner) desire to reach the moon, the piece appeals to our very human desire to escape the monotony of everyday life into the unknown. He poignantly leaves his wife and work to fulfil his fantastical dream.
Using a very simple set design, Rhum and Clay create an electric atmosphere with their use of filmic introductions, impressive soundtrack, shadow puppetry and lights. Their self-consciously minimalist transitions and set only enhance the striking performance and created an air of sensitivity, amongst the absurdity, bringing the story to life. The interjection of distant lights throughout the piece serve as a thread, further indicating the central theme of the Man’s quest to the moon. This absurd humour comes with the virtuoso movement and skilled physicality of their performance, which is easy to like despite the fact the narrative isn’t easily to follow. In some ways, although the narrative is a little confused, this only adds to the whimsical nature of the piece. The absurdist, almost dream-like scenes, plunge us into an alternate, child-like world and are in stark contrast with the very real presentation of our commercial age.
Slick choreography is used to comically translate the business calls, the commute, the clubs, the shots, truly emphasising the mundane cycle the modern man is shackled to. The weightlessness achieved as the Man finally reaches the moon is a clear symbol as he overcomes this monotony. In particular, a shining sequence includes the Man leaving his wife in order to continue his quest, which is executed with impeccable timing, creating a comic yet touching scene.
Rhum and Clay are wonderfully charming and visually exciting. Their story, while confusing, is easy to get lost in and caters to child-like fantasies and our insatiable desire of escape. Even better, ‘The Man in the Moone’ is being shown at Exeter’s Bikeshed Theatre, creating a bohemian and intimate platform for the performance, fitting for the cosy and eclectic venue.
by Isabelle Pitman, Razz Film and Literature Correspondent