Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dark Of The Moon

photo: Ian Crawford

Dark Of The Moon is famously hard to pull off convincingly and to proper chilling effect, but the young company Thirsty Turtle has done it. Their storefront theatre, seventeen cast-membered production of the folkloric play, which tells of the tragic, doomed union between boy witch John (played with wirey-weird sweetness and sincerity by Noah J. Dunhan) and his human lover Barbra Allen (a radiant, believably tender Sarah Hayes Donnell) somewhere deep in the hooch-guzzling, revival hymn-singing Appalachian Mountains, is shrewdly and inventively directed, effectively designed on an indie budget, and played with straight conviction as it absolutely must be. The young lovers face obstacles from his supernatural world and from her earthly one: the play's lingering punch is landed from the fact that the more horrific affronts to the couple's union come not from the petty scheming of the witches, but from the religious intolerance and pack mentality of the humans. Director Ian Crawford makes many bold choices that are always in service of telling the story; he resists grafting an authoral modern irony onto it, and (aided by Emily French's thrifty but evocative bi-level set and Duncan Cutler's atmospheric sound design) makes memorable, resourceful use of the problematic space. The excellent and dramatic seven-foot mesh and wire puppets in the witch world, designed by Dakotah West, would be scene-stealers if there weren't so many good young actors in the ensemble: standouts include a flirty, laugh-getting Jessica Howell, and Brendan Norton, whose depiction of Barbra's baby brother has just the right amount of boyish pout.

No comments: