Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Mr Moon at C Aquila
Since 2019, Mr Moon has been performed internationally with a shifting group of performers known as Moon Cabaret. The cast come from different countries and backgrounds, and form a ragtag musical ensemble, with brass instruments, drums, cello, electric guitar and singing. It feels like an old-timey cabaret, put together haphazardly.
Most of the show is made up of songs sung by frontwoman Laurien Schreuder, accompanied by the band, alongside small bits of puppetry, physical theatre, slapstick gags and other singers. Music ranges from slow chansons to rowdy klezmer-style music hall numbers. It is well-executed, though Schreuder’s voice is a little weak. The band and backing harmonies bring it together and it is exciting to hear a mix of English, French and Spanish lyrics, sometimes all within one sentence. It is just a shame that a lot of the lyrics get drowned under the music, so it is not clear to the audience if there is a story.
Performers wear white clown makeup with colourful detailing. The compere, Nora Tinholt, smiles at the audience with crazy, wide-open eyes covered in black all the way from her eyelids to her temples, and fluorescent pink eye bags that look like bloody tears – it is a suitably creepy effect. This is teamed with statement costumes: one character wears a full-body clown suit with wide balloon trousers, all black with a ruff-like white collar. The singer, Schreuder, is in a pink plastic dress that looks like David Bowie had a baby with Magenta from The Rocky Horror Show; she wobbles in some 20-inch razor-sharp platform heels (they look impressive, but she can barely walk). Mo Benchenllal’s costumes place the action in an underground, otherworldly space.
Bin Xu and Nora Tinholt’s set design is minimalist with just a platform for the drum kit and some microphones. Dark lighting adds mystery, but performers stand just outside their spotlights, so the illusion fails. In general, the show is let down by a lack of stagecraft. Two soft “Mr Moon” masks provide a centrepiece, doubling as puppets, but performers look away from the audience while wearing them as masks and don’t make them breathe as puppets, so the moons do not come to life. There is a moment where Santiago Baculima, a clownish physical theatre performer, crawls on the floor with the mask on his head, and suddenly the moon comes to life as a scary spider, but then the actor gets up and it dies again. In general, the performers could care more for objects – one moment sees a character pick up a saw and initially make a show of it being sharp, before touching the blade again absentmindedly and forgetting that the audience thinks it is sharp. These details ruin the suspension of disbelief and kill the humour.
Mr Moon is an interesting insight into old-style cabaret, and the music is fun and lively. But the performers should fine-tune their stagecraft to do justice to the show.
Mr Moon is at C Aquila from 15th August until 17th August 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information about Edinburgh Fringe 2022 visit the festival website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: