BWW Review: THE BOY IN THE MOON at Crow's Theatre is Not Flashy, and That's Okay
Heart defects. Cognitive delay. Growth hormone deficiency. These are just some of the symptoms that Cardiofaciocutaneous (CFC) syndrome can present. THE BOY IN THE MOON, by Emil Sher, examines the love and labour involved in raising a child born into these symptoms. Based on a book by Ian Brown, and interviews with Brown's family, the play is a heart-aching invitation into the home of four unimaginably courageous humans.
Ian (David Storch) begins by explaining the meticulous process required to change Walker's diaper. Walker flails his limbs, he often hits himself - he often must be pinned down for his own protection. Ian's wife, Johanna (Liisa Repo-Martell) and their daughter, Hayley (Kelly McNamee) share in these rituals. Together, they struggle to understand Walker's place in their lives, just as much as they question their place in his.
Director Chris Abraham is skilled at presenting life. His characters exist in a casual, natural state that creates an immersive experience - the banter between Ian and Johanna is paced as if it has been moulded by years of commitment. Abraham steps away from this realism in his symbolic representations of Walker. He gives Walker presence in the piece with creative lighting and physical choreography. I enjoyed how the careful grace of ballet was employed to communicate the sporadic, forceful movements of Walker's condition.
Emphasis is placed on the narration by the minimalist, sparse staging (with the exception of a gorgeous garden upstage). The lighting, brilliantly designed by Andre du Toit and Kimberley Purtell, takes advantage of this openness, creating an infinite variety of settings. I loved du Toit's work in Prince Hamlet, and immediately recognized it in this. He has such a unique understanding of space - the use of angles and shadows enhance the emotional landscape of the piece.
If I still haven't given you a reason to see this play, go for the performances - they are out of this world. David Storch displays a commitment to his craft unlike anything I've ever witnessed. His portrayal of Ian Brown is perfectly vulnerable. Liisa Repo-Martell weaves in and out from stability to complete meltdown in a way that is never overstated. My lip was quivering with hers as we both held back tears. Kelly McNamee plays Hayley with a neutral, removed energy that is heartbreaking when you realize how selfless she has had to be.
THE BOY IN THE MOON is not flashy, and that's okay. There are no stakes. There are no heroes or villains. In Abraham's production, there are only humans - imperfect humans with an immense capacity for love.
THE BOY IN THE MOON, A Crow's Theatre Production, is playing through May 27, 2017 at the Streetcar Crowsnest, 345 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto, ON
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.crowstheatre.com
(photo credit: Dahlia Katz)