A murder on the moon, a second murder among acrobatic philosophers celebrating a political coup, a former musical star who can’t sing June Moon songs any more and a man trying to prove logically the existence of God and good - Tom Stoppard’s 1972 comedy of verbal razzle-dazzle was always in danger of flying apart in different directions, although the 2003 National Theatre revival found its emotional and thematic core.
This new, small-scale staging by the Tabard’s resident producing company is more successful in communicating Stoppard’s unflagging verbal and intellectual wit than in finding the connections among its various strands and the emotions and human story beneath them.
As the philosophising George, Toby Eddington wrestles manfully with the reams of dense and clever monologue Stoppard forces on the character, but frequent resorting to the script (cunningly disguised as the character’s lecture notes) repeatedly interferes with the rhythm and sense of the words. Emily Shaw captures Dotty’s brittleness but not the shattered idealism behind it, and Malcolm Freeman is suitably oily but not quite sinister enough as the amoral Archie.
Director Madeleine Loftin and designer Christopher Hone inventively shoehorn the play onto a tiny stage.