08
May
15

Me, Maria and the Moon

 

Me, Maria and the Moon

The Basics Project

That Flower Shop

May 7 – 9 & 21 – 23 2015

 

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Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

A story set at the dawn of time when the power of the heart and the power of the universes gravitational pull forces a drift between desires and the true colours of a lusted heart are drawn to the surface. A classic not-so-classic love story that will buzz the imagination for a long time to come.

 

 

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It’s a show in a flower shop – That Flower Shop

 

It’s located in a random shopping centre complex in Alderley and the shop’s silver roller door is Luke Butler’s backdrop. Stock has been moved to make way for around thirty audience members. This small shop, even without a show in it, lends itself to something sweet and lovely in the way of storytelling.

 

It is indeed a sweet and lovely show, inspired by Italo Calvino’s The Distance of the Moon and reminiscent of Disney Pixar’s short film, La Luna, Wolfe Bowart’s LaLaLuna and in terms of its structure and storytelling, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince and The Escapist’s Boy Girl Wall.

 

In short, Me, Maria and the Moon is delightful.

 

 

 

Producer, Writer and Performer, Luke Butler, in role as the spritely professor, tells a not so classic love story with enough energy to fill a much larger space. At the same time, he creates the kind of quiet intimacy you’d expect of a private conversation on the lounge in a moonlit living room. I almost expected thirty steaming cups of black tea to be magically procured out of a battered old suitcase, which is one of Butler’s versatile props. But it’s opening night and thanks to the pop-up bar outside there’s an abundance of bubbles, wine and beer instead.

 

me, maria and the moon tea

 

The Professor is very proper and knowledgeable, and at the same time warm and personable, taking the time to connect with individual audience members. We truly feel we are guests in his humble home on just the right day to hear a tale from time gone by. (On other days he might reasonably be too busy to stop, studying instead the tides or a new planet!). We feel we know him. In fact, The Professor reminds me of Jim Broadbent’s mischievous take on the children’s uncle in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

 

I see others in the audience smiling throughout the show, enjoying moments of the vivid retelling of the tale of lost love, and perhaps vaguely thinking of their own great (lost) love… The rich layering of bold, young ideas and older, wiser sentiments in a body that becomes frail (while the mind and heart stay strong) make this a story for all ages.

 

Poppy tells me after the show, “I was listening and looking at him and as I was listening and looking at him he became older and older. His hair became grey as I was watching him!” She loved that the grown ups actually got to the moon because, you know, grown ups so rarely do. “Well, you have to remember how to get there. That jump is tricky.”

 

A one-man-show is just as tricky a leap, which is why we see so few (and why we don’t expect students to pull together anything of the sort until Year 12). But Butler is a skilful performer who exudes confidence in a polite, good-humoured, well-measured manner. He’s never arrogant or over indulgent. His choices are deliberate and his performance is carefully paced. Overall, it’s a precise, polished production, ready for the next stage of development, and there’s no need to nit-pick here. It’s a show we could expect to see next at Metro Arts or in the Shopfront at the Judith Wright Centre…if it weren’t for The Basics Project’s policy to arrange each production in a space best suited to the story. Perhaps with the right offer of funding and support the company might look to a more conventional theatrical space for the purposes of development. And ticket sales. The beauty of Anywhere Theatre Festival though is that you just might be one of the lucky ones to experience something special in a space anywhere other than a theatre.

 

Me, Maria and the Moon is whimsical, magical stuff. If you can see it, do enjoy your journey to the moon and back!

 

 

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