Writer: David French
Director: Peter Kavanagh
Arriving a little too early for St Valentine’s Day, Canadian writer David French’s 75-minute play brings a scent of romance to the January air. We are told that the play has been performed regularly in North America and elsewhere since its first staging in 1984; perhaps this is due equally to its feel-good appeal and to the fact that, with just two actors and one simple set, it is extremely easy to put on anywhere at any time.
Surprisingly, the play is receiving its United Kingdom premiere here. The setting is a remote Newfoundland coastal village in 1926. The dark shadow of the First World War still hangs over the inhabitants as Jacob, a young man who had left for Toronto a year earlier, returns to be reunited with Mary, the sweetheart whom he had abandoned without saying proper goodbyes. In Jacob’s absence, Mary has become engaged to marry another man who can offer her security and stability.
Mim Houghton’s set design, a white bench and side table on grass against a backdrop of brightly shining stars, lends a dreamy feel to director Peter Kavanagh’s captivating production. In this idyllic spot, the one-time lovers rake over the past and the play asks will they or won’t they reconcile their differences.
Joseph Potter’s Jacob has the impish charm to counter perfectly the slightly tarnished innocence of Bryony Miller’s Mary. Their exchanges bristle with romantic innuendo to suggest an undying chemistry between them. French’s dialogue also reveals some grimmer details of Newfoundland life in the 1920s and reminds us of the losses of Canadian families from the Great War in Europe.
Its social and historical observations are interesting, but, essentially, Salt-Water Moon is a fluffy romcom, albeit one that is a bit light on the comedy. Even though its journey and its destination throw up few surprises, the play still leaves much to enjoy along the way.
Runs until 28 January 2023