West of the Moon
Review by Lara Fox
Clare Testoni writes, directs and features in West of the Moon – a family friendly ‘Frozen meets The Princess Bride’ fairy tale about an ordinary girl destined for extraordinary things.
West of the Moon is refreshing in that it doesn’t take itself too seriously; this is evident in the style and production and gives it a uniquely understated, post-modern feel.
The play uses silk columns and a projector to create the scenes of mystical worlds and to exhibit the characters. The use of body and hand signals as well as a few charming props are extremely clever and complement the story nicely.
The story follows the protagonist Boots (Testoni) from her humble beginnings as the black sheep of her family to the unlikeliest of champions of a kingdom that sits East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
Although the story’s trajectory is predictable (even for those who don’t know the original), it is always refreshing to see the stereotypical gender roles inverted and a diffident and self-deprecating hero.
As Boots and her love interest (for it’s not a fairy tale without a love interest) Bjorn (Sean Guastavino) are the only live actors for the majority of the show, and as it lacks extravagant extras, the show’s success relies heavily on their performances, as well as the art of discourse and humour.
It just hits the mark with humour, with the audience giggling sporadically throughout, but there is an absence of ingenuity in the dialogue.
Testoni and Guastavino keep the audience entertained with their acting prowess, however it feels like the play sits somewhere between adult parody and a lighthearted children’s tale – and it can’t make up its mind over which it wants to be.
The result is that it doesn’t completely dedicate itself to either genre, through performance styles or writing – and it ends up being a fairy tale without enough theatrical magic. West of the Moon would be great for children and families who are looking for an exploration into theatre, or for those who feel like something playful and unpretentious.