Writer: Daniel Kanaber
Director: Adam Quayle
Reviewer: Alice Hiley
It all starts with a sleeping bag drying by a campfire. It’s just been pissed on, and Paul (Darren Kuppan) is pretty sure Mike’s (Kyle Rowe) the one who did it.
Spanning half a lifetime, Box of Tricks theatre’s Under Three Moons leads us through three significant stages in the lives of two Northern men. The chalk-and-cheese characters become friends on a high school trip to France, then camp out at a surf shack in their twenties, before reuniting after years apart for Christmas in their thirties. From boyhood to manhood to fatherhood, we’re dropped into a new decade with little context and patiently asked to keep up.
The passage of time is signified by simple set design (Katie Scott) – a string of hanging copper lightbulbs flash, the actors walk once round the circular stage and a papier-mâché moon rotates. Nothing else is needed.
With everything else stripped down to basics, dialogue is the show’s heartbeat. The script is full of quick-fire quips, Mike and Paul bantering back and forth like a to-me, to-you skit. On the surfing trip, Mike promises Paul that Pembrookshire is the second-best coast in England. Paul responds “yeah, well, hanging is the second most popular suicide method. Still shit though.” During moments like these, even in the small, far-from-full auditorium, Rowe and Kuppan had to pause and wait for the laughter to die down.
There are also plenty of tender, slower moments; in the end, pondering fatherhood, loss, love and what could have been, Rowe’s performance has the emotion and pacing of a spoken word poet.
In a short amount of time, Kanaber covers just about everything: sex, popularity, seeking approval; addiction, abuse, adult relationships; making a business, losing and becoming a parent – plus a bit of on-stage ‘skinny dipping’.
Though the prop and costume changes were often a little lengthy and less than seamless, the use of audio to portray everything happening off-stage was striking. There were several clever Fleabag-esque soundbites: fit French girls playing their boombox in the corner of the campsite, the approaching footsteps of a guard about to kick them off the beach, a baby monitor stirring in the next room.
This is a smart, touching look at how men relate to each other, and how people can grow and change in unexpected ways.
Runs until 2 November | Image: Contributed