A woman walks into a hotel room, where a man sits looking out of the window at a passing comet. He denies inviting her, and in any case he wouldn’t have asked for a brunette. She won’t take his money. But they are undoubtedly drawn to each other. So they play. They play at meeting in a hotel room by accident – that is, after all, what’s just happened (isn’t it?), so it’s easy to get into character. And then at meeting in the same room again three years later, during their own wedding reception. Then seven years down the track, to see that comet on its next turn past the Earth. Then their allotted hour is up.
It’s like a ten-year relationship compressed into a single hour of interaction. We know objectively that it’s all pretend, but it feels so real. Judging by the depth of their emotional reactions, it even seems real for the players themselves. I couldn't help but wonder – where does the game start and real life begin? And what happens when the pretending is more real than reality?
Moonlight after Midnight is a two-person play from New York company Concrete Drops, made up of writer/actor Martin Dockery and dramaturge/actor Vanessa Quesnelle.
You can tell that this is a collaboration of great artistic chemistry. The two actors bounce off of each other well, delivering textured and tightly-scripted banter. Dockery is charming but evasive; you could listen to Quesnelle’s mellifluous voice forever.
Dockery is also presenting an autobiographical monologue, The Bike Trip, this Fringe. I happened to see both in the same night at Tuxedo Cat, which was interesting. I ‘met’ the man before I saw him perform a character, who himself was performing a role. Not too confusing in itself, but enough to add an extra layer of meaning to my interpretation of the script.
Moonlight after Midnight is dialogue-dense and rich in subtext. You never know quite where you stand. Now, this made me feel pretty uncomfortable. I’ve looked back at a relationship before and wondered if any of it was real, so this work resonated with me a lot. And maybe not in the way that was intended.
Another line of questioning the play puts forward is about, for lack of a better word, destiny. It asks: how might any given scenario, any collision of parties or particles, play out in any other universe?
Moonlight after Midnight makes you think, that’s for sure. It is challenging, subversive theatre for those who enjoy gleaning their own interpretation. As much as I love and respect a challenge, on this particular moonlit night I'm struggling to say I could enjoy it.