By David Greig
Directed by Alex Menglet
With Ella Caldwell, Erin Dewar, Dion Mills & Martin Sharpe
Set by Peter Mumford
Lighting by Stelios Karagiannis
Costumes by Olga Makeeva
Stage Manager Isobel Ferns
Yellow Moon – The Ballad of Leila and Lee (Feb 4 – March 7, 2009)
Kate Rose, Sunday Herald Sun (22/02/09)
WHETHER the old blues riff or the Nick Cave song, there have been many incarnations of Stag Lee and this contemporary retelling of the 19th century killing of William Lyons by “Stagger” Lee Shelton continues the tradition, but with a 21st century sensibility.
Instead of an adult cab driver, Yellow Moon’s Lee is a teen with a depressed, alcoholic mother and an amateur boxer would-be stepfather.
He spends his days planning to make a fortune from a life of crime and trying to get his mother out of bed.
Leila is his silent classmate, a Muslim obsessed with celebrity magazines and cutting herself. After meeting Leila accidentally one night, Lee becomes embroiled in a fight with his mother’s boyfriend and kills him.
Shaken by what has happened, Leila and Lee flee to the Scottish Highlands with a plan to find Lee’s father. It is there they meet gamekeeper Frank and their determination to find their own identities reaches a climax.
The script, by David Greig, cleverly examines the concepts of truth and reality, playfully allowing characters to shift from first to third person and back again.
The Red Stitch regulars milk the multilayered script for everything it has, and ensure Greig’s wit is exploited, despite some of the serious issues with which the play wrestles.
Ella Caldwell as Holly and Erin Dewar as Leila in Yellow Moon by David Greig. Picture: Jodie Hutchinson.
Chris Boyd, Herald Sun 17/02/2009
IT’S hard to believe that Yellow Moon was written by just the one person. Maybe playwright David Greig has one of those multiple personality disorders, because every one of his characters is a bloody miracle – unique, complex and unpredictable – and they all jostle for our attention like eager faces at a porthole.
The story’s fairly unremarkable: teen thug kills his mum’s boyfriend and runs away with self-hating Muslim girl. (Trust me, there were no major spoilers in that summary.) But the telling of that story is imaginative: the cast of four drop in and out of character to narrate the action and reveal what they’re thinking. (In the case of the Muslim girl called Silent Leila, that’s almost all of her dialogue.)
And, as I say, the individual characters are utterly and adorably themselves. Jilted amateur boxer Billy (Dion Mills) loves his karaoke. Silent Leila (Erin Dewar) loves her fanzines and wants to be in a story about her. The thug teen “Stag” Lee (Martin Sharpe) is the perfect mix of bravado and innocence. He talks the talk even though he’s never really walked the walk. Until now. And starlet Holly (Ella Caldwell) hides none of her secrets.
Just as an ordinary story is made extraordinary in the telling, this ordinary play is made extraordinary in the performance.
Alex Menglet’s production is big on thrills and low on frills. It’s superbly well rehearsed. The actors hit the ground sprinting. Mills, Sharpe and Caldwell are perfectly cast and each turns in a personal-best performance.
Like Red Stitch “captain” David Whiteley, you could cast Erin Dewar in any old role and expect excellence. And not be disappointed.
The same can be said about Red Stitch.
This is great theatre. Don’t miss it.