A few years back I remember hearing someone talk about the Large Hadron Collider and the quest for the mythical God particle. Amongst this talk someone suggested that it could result in a black hole forming that would not be too good for the planet! It’s something that has always stuck in my mind, and it seems as if Moth’s writer, Matt Wilson, may have heard the same extreme theory, because their play’s central concept is that, with the involvement of a moth and ball of yarn, 77% of everything simply disappears. As ideas go, you have to admit it’s fairly ambitious, and I am all there for such crazy ambition.
Meredith, played in a wonderfully confused haze by Joseph Vause, is in that 77%. Except somehow, he’s suddenly reappeared eight years later in the lab where it all happened, and where there is a very dark – dare I say even black – hole. Stranger still, Sadie (Ezri Mannion), his girlfriend at the time of the event, and best friend Jonathon (the play’s stand out performance from writer Wilson) have also both made their way there in the preceding eight years; surely more than a coincidence, and as if moths drawn to a light.
There’s a lot to unpack here. It’s very much a play you could spend the whole evening discussing, if there was any evening left afterwards! But even then, you’re unlikely to have scratched the surface. There’s certainly a consistent message that we are all extremely small and unimportant in the grand scheme of things, yet not in a sad way – rather as something to be celebrated: that being unimportant should free us to do whatever makes us happy. There’s also lots going on about gender identity, with names not conforming to expectations, and whilst I maybe missed quite what Wilson was trying to say, it left the impression of having further importance, and left me yearning to comprehend it better.
What is a big problem with Moth though is that no play in a fringe theatre, especially ones in their early iteration, should clock in close to three hours (including interval). A play this long should have gone through a thorough process to ensure that every moment, every scene, was vital. Here Moth struggles as it slips into that third hour. All the pieces start to come together, but it loses the momentum of an incredible first half. At least thirty minutes could, and should, be cut to bring this down to a more appropriate length, with the latter scenes pruned to tighten it all up. As much as the charming relationship between Jonathon and Tommy (Charlotte Powell) are some of the best scenes for chemistry, they could be trimmed back drastically.
Much like the Large Hadron Collider and all the talk of the God particle, I admit I don’t quite understand what Moth is ultimately trying to say. But as with the complex science, I am always eager to be challenged to try to find meaning in it all. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m overthinking it. Perhaps the Large Hadron Collider is just a big loop where scientists smash things together for fun. And maybe Moth is just a play with a simple message that life is fleeting so enjoy it whilst you can. Because you never know, tomorrow those scientists might bash the wrong things together and have us all sucked into a black hole forever.
Additional cast members: Will Osbon, Ezri Mannion, Connie Peel
Written by: Matt Wilson
Directed by: Claire Cole
Set design by: Matilda Seddon
Produced by: Ezri Mannion for Antimatter Productions
Moth plays at The Hope Theatre until 2 December. Further information and bookings can be found here.