In her debut full-length play Alice Birch presents four characters searching for love, and a greater understanding of their ability to love.
Ollie opens himself up to the audience; his desperation to be accepted by others and his reticence to communicate making him endearing – at first. Subsequently, the four characters gradually expose an aspect of their life or their personality that, at first, seems mildly amusing. This slow exfoliation of a harsher ‘truth’ grinding the audience into a state of troubling uncertainty.
The pregnant Meg, superbly played by Esther Hall, appears to be ferociously heartless, whilst the older Robert (Jonathan Newth) seems to be nothing more than a gentle OAP with an avid interest in zoology. We quickly identify with the mundane revelations that each character is eager to confess, but, unnervingly, Birch sweeps clean any concrete sense of character or concepts – such as love or faith in humanity – as the play progresses.
Many Moons isn’t a routine exploration of the relationship between appearance and reality, however. Rather, its tightly woven monologues are crafted so that each character exists in a constant state of flux: the more that is revealed about each character, the more puzzling it becomes to understand the myriad connections between them.
Birch plays on the idea of the postmodern condition: we are all irrevocably related and interconnected. In her constant references to the stars, and the final, busy street scene, she demonstrates all the characters’ actions are intertwined within a greater system of cause and effect – and are powerless to affect it.
But even in the final, most tangled moments, only the audience full grasps of the cast's interconnectedness. As a result of this god-like realisation Birch burdens us with a darker, terrifying knowledge of each character. Showing us that nothing is what it seems, it leaves us wishing to remain innocent of this fuller, more sinister knowledge of how the threads of life are inextricably joined.
- Charlotte Pegram