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In Event of Moone Disaster review at Theatre503, London – ‘wonderfully acted’

Rosie Wyatt In Event of Moone Disaster at Theatre503, London. Photo: Jack Sain Rosie Wyatt In Event of Moone Disaster at Theatre503, London. Photo: Jack Sain
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In Event of Moone Disaster, the 2016 winner of the Theatre503 Playwriting Award, heralds a triumphant launch to the career of its writer Andrew Thompson.

It’s also a sensitive debut for the theatre’s new artistic director Lisa Spirling. The play riffs on the scientific and imaginative possibilities opened up by space travel, but beyond the astro-geography it movingly explores the crucial spaces between people – how they’re filled and negotiated. Obligation, indifference and yearning make up the knotty stuff of life that plays out on a neutral grey set of scrims, smooth surfaces and a slope that leads offstage.

It’s an intricate, poignant and frequently funny play that links three generations of women. Thompson displays a gift for dialogue and snappy structure in the often seamless blend of scenes that span 1969, 2017 and 2055.

At a party to celebrate the moon landing, we meet main protagonist Sylvia Moone. Winningly played by Rosie Wyatt, she’s a flighty, dreamy and sometimes cruel young woman partial to LSD and desperate for experience and adventure beyond the confines of a small northern town. Her pregnancy could be the result of a fumble with Dennis (Thomas Pickles), her generally well-meaning but persistently parochial friend whose idea of “going places” is a trip to Skegness. Pickles gives a fine comic performance, tinged with pathos.

Sylvia, meanwhile, prefers to believe that the father of her child is an astronaut who provides transcendent orgasms and endless possibilities. Future scenes of corporate-sponsored space exploration – in which Wyatt plays an abrupt rocket scientist with an American twang – are deftly realised.

Verdict
Wonderfully acted play that cleverly combines themes of space travel and sexual freedom
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