“An orgasm’s like an apology. You never get one from a man”
This is an astonishing piece of work. It’s also a jolly good evening in the theatre. These two statements, as Sir Alec Guinness once said, are “not necessarily concomitant.”
Andrew Thompson’s “In Event of Moone disaster” was the winner of Theatre503’ International playwriting award. It was chosen from over 1600 works from 52 countries. The competition was judged by luminaries from the theatrical firmament including Mark Lawson, Timberlake Wertenbaker and Roy Williams. They have made a brilliant decision.
Thompson’s plot revolves around space. Sylvia Moone is with her boyfriend Dennis watching the first Moon landings. Sylvia is much enamoured of one Astronaut taking ‘one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind’. We fast forward to the year 2055 where Sylvia’s granddaughter is set on becoming the first person to walk on Mars.
Thompson is not afraid to play with concepts of moving between past, present and future. Sometimes he does this all at once. There is one scene where the young Sylvia is having sex with her boyfriend while at the same time she is an old peoples’ home being badgered and lectured by her son. It is hilarious and deeply moving at the same time. The playing of this is worth the admission price alone. I don’t think it hyperbole to say that Alan Ayckbourn would have been proud of writing this.
Thompson’s dialogue is earthy, assured and confident. He has set his work in a small Northern town and the flatness of the vowel sounds seems to accentuate the comedy. But it also serves to bed the characters emotions in a deep-seated truth. It is a startling debut play.
Rosie Wyat’s Sylvia is an astonishing study. She is an actor who can move smoothly from high comedy to gut wrenching poignancy. Her physical and vocal dexterity makes it obvious whether we are in past, present or future. So much of the play revolves around her and she embraces all those challenges with a blissfully confident touch.
Thomas Pickles’ Dennis is both gauche, comedic and truthful. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but his playing of the scene watching the ducks go by is a thing of rare joy.
It is much to Andrew Thompson’s credit that all the actors are given their moments. Will Norris as Neil and Alicya Eyo as Julie prove enormously accomplished players. Both find moments of comedy gold while never forgetting to push the story forward.
Dar Dash completes the ensemble with sharp and focused character studies.
For Lisa Spirling, the director of this work and the recently appointed artistic director of Theatre503, it is a triumph. To her great credit she has given this production the highest values. From the designer Sarah Beaton’s luminous set to Richard Hammarton’s audacious sound design, everything works beautifully.
At the end of the play there is a ‘coup-de-theatre’ which simply takes your breath away.
It is a cliché (and I hope I have never written it before) but ‘beg, borrow or steal a ticket’ for this glorious production.
Editor's Note: Read our interview with the writer here
Showing 4 – 28 October 2017
Battersea Park Road
London SW11 3BW
Tues – Sat | 7.45pm | Matinees Weds and Sat
£15 (£12 concs)
Box Office: Theatre503.com | 020 7978 7040
Wednesday 18 Oct, 12pm – Parent & Baby Matinee
Saturday 21 Oct, 7.45 – Captioned Performance
Wednesday 25 Oct, 3pm – Chilled Matinee
Reviewer Richard Braine is actor, director and playwright.
As an Actor he has worked extensively throughout the country including Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange, Birmingham Rep, and Stephen Joseph Theatre in Yorkshire. His Television and Film credits include: “Calendar Girls”, “Pride, Prejudice and Zombies”, “Finding Neverland”, “Bridget Jones”, “Suspicions of Mr Whicher”, “Mr Selfridge” and many years ago Gussie Fink-Nottle in “Jeeves and Wooster”. He has also filmed over 150 Commercials all over the world.
He has directed the European premiere of Sternheim/Martin “The Underpants” at The Old Red Lion Theatre and written three plays: “Being There with Sellers”, “Bedding Clay Jones” and “Sexing Alan Titchmarsh”.