Stag Lee (Charlotte Kelly) and Silent Leila (Shelby Nelson) both struggle to deal with the difficulties posed by their environments: Lee’s efforts to make ‘big money from a life of crime’ are largely unsuccessful as his arrogance exceeds his ability, whilst Leila has become silently withdrawn from others, her thoughts occupied with her own perceived unimportance. Lee’s cocksure attitude is portrayed excellently by Charlotte, whose performance is the more impressive for playing a male role, and elicits genuine emotion throughout the play. Equally, Shelby’s portrayal of Silent Leila is worthy of merit as Leila rarely ‘speaks’ in the play, her lines largely consisting of her thoughts which are not heard by the other characters. This provided one of the more intriguing elements of the play as her detachment from the world around her is actualised to the point where no one responds if she speaks. The commitment of both actors to their roles was such that some of the more controversial topics in ‘Yellow Moon’, which touches on ideas like self-harm and social poverty, are handled sensitively whilst maintaining realism.
Along with the play’s five characters, the actors take on a narrative role as well, explaining the events taking place and vocalising the thoughts of some individuals. This allows the scenes to progress in a non-linear fashion as the shifts in location or time can be made apparent to the audience. The exposition is delivered in a variety of different styles, often sounding like extracts from a police report describing the incident, and at other times introducing a hint of uncertainty as the narrators never seem sure of what actually happened. Mishia Legget was particularly engaging in her delivery of these key lines, which could otherwise have proved tedious over time. Sofia Langthaler and Radhaika Rapur were also notable in this capacity, as all three actors were required to remember a great many lines for many different characters and contexts, and were able to adopt and move between multiple personas convincingly.
The production of the play was consistently high throughout. In particular, the lighting to complement some of the action sequences was well-employed, dramatizing a stabbing and a fire to great effect. A raised platform had been set up along the back of the stage, adding another level for events to take place on. Scenes flowed seamlessly into one another with the actors remaining onstage for the majority of time, showing an awareness of rhythm which allowed the piece to move forward and avoid stagnating.
‘Yellow Moon’ was an ambitious choice for a Freshers’ Play and one which, I think, ultimately paid off. It was refreshing to watch and the cast and production team are to be credited for their innovative representations of challenging subjects.
Image by Adelaide Waldrop