Pleasance Theatre, London – until 15 April 2018
Is it London if there’s isn’t at least a couple of Philip Ridley plays in the offing?! Hot on the heels of Angry in Southwark and with Vincent River now on at the Park, Lidless Theatre is reviving his 2010 play Moonfleece at North London’s Pleasance Theatre.
I saw Moonfleece at Rich Mix as a baby blogger back in 2010 at a time when I didn’t know what a Philip Ridley was. And it probably actually served as an ideal entrée into his oeuvre as it is considerably less formally challenging than much of his other work. But though ostensibly written for young people, it is no less thought-provoking in the treatment of its issues.
Back then, the investigation of far-right politics felt controversial (and provoked protests) but it also feels a lifetime away as it was the snowflakes of the BNP being triggered as opposed to the Farrago. Exploring the rise of such views feels even more important in today’s society though as they’ve only gained in currency, legitimised by an irresponsible press with little care (or perhaps too much…) of how they’re shaping minds.
Using an unwieldy but effective ensemble, Ridley probes into the rise of such a party, into the personal lives of those who’ve founded it to find if any answers exist. They do, and Ridley being Ridley, they are not what anyone expects and director Max Harrison deals well with this unpredictable edge to the drama in the cluttered traverse of Kit Hinchcliffe’s design.
James Downie impresses as Curtis, a man haunted by the ghosts of his past and the actions of his present, symptomatic of the way disaffection with society can prove so alienating. And around him, the company do their best with some vivid cameo work. Yes, there’s a lot of them jostling for space and time to speak but have you seen teenagers today? There’s always hulking groups of them, that’s how they roll. Moonfleece reminds us we just need to learn to listen to them.