Sam Shepard’s Ages of the Moon was written in 2009, the same year he penned his Pulitzer-winning Buried Child. There are themes that connect the two plays, but ultimately this is a short and surprisingly moving two-hander focusing on ageing and how it affects us physically and mentally.
Ames (Christopher Fairbank) has escaped to the country following an argument with his wife and in his solitude he has called his old friend Byron (Joseph Marcell) to join him. Draining a bottle of whiskey, the pair haphazardly attempt to recollect their shared past, clashing foolishly along the way.
Booze is the trigger here, not so much for violence but to allow each character to open up emotionally. It leads to laughter and arguments but ultimately it brings them closer together.
Alexander Lass’ subtly moving production loosens with every sip of the whiskey. It’s slightly awkward at first, although Fairbank and Marcell are utterly convincing in their friendship. As the two of them struggle to recall their shared past, the pace quickens as they cuss and scrap, ultimately clinging together for hope.
Lass’ production marks the UK premiere of Shepard’s play and while the thoughtful and occasionally playful performances make the deepest impression, the design team does strong work too.
Holly Pigott’s decrepit, dusty porch seems to creak with age along with the characters, while Jai Morjaria’s lighting catches the subtle mood changes as a lunar eclipse gently leads to both a physical and metaphorical twilight.