As soon as I entered the space I felt like I was buried amongst a nostalgic cloud; a ramshackle stage populated by piles of books, a sofa and a drying rack which immediately transported me to an overwhelming sense of familiarity. And family, very much family. And indeed that’s exactly what Keisha Thompson’s ‘Man on the Moon’ presents; the idea of community illicit with the bond ‘family’ creates, and the bittersweet beauty in that.
This is drama of catharsis; of tragedy indeed, but Thompson manages to deliver every moment with the perfect balance of sincerity and warmth, finding humour in small vignettes. The play is focused around the tempestuous relationship Thompson holds with her father; an enigmatic character who peppers her rise in adolescence with curiosity gifts of books – ranging from Metaphysics to Chinese sexuality magic. Through the literature Thompson constructs a narrative echoed with love, loss and laughter as she relives her childhood spent waiting by the letterbox in chance of catching a glimpse of her father. In moments like these she pairs grief with comedy; creating images that have a bittersweet innocence to them through which a shade of sadness shines out.
The stage design very much so played on the childlike innocence of the piece and as the sofa transformed into a makeshift ‘rocket’, sprung mechanically up, I felt a little bit like five again. A blend of anecdote, spoken word and song all delivered by the solo presence of Thompson who all times holds the audiences’ captivation as she moves around the ever-morphing set. A set which changes from a domestic space to the outside world to a dream-scape propelled up to space. This was not a show that relied on grandiose to convey its narrative, rather its limitations of space and budget created an intimate atmosphere working with the audience to present the story.
The auditorium was like a studio space allowing Thompson to reach out to every audience member within an intimate setting, giving the show an air of accessibility which matched well with the informal presentation of performance. I felt privy to her stories. I felt trusted; allowed in, and I was grateful.