I AM delighted to be back reviewing again – albeit under Covid restrictions. Congratulations to Malvern Theatres for being first off the mark opening up their auditorium after a six months lockdown.
The choice of ‘Mooney and His Caravans’ – a two-hander by Peter Terson – is a good one. The plot concerns a recently wed Brummie couple Charlie and Mave that move to a rural, out of season Caravan Park to start a new life. This swiftly turns from the optimism of young love to a reality of friendless, semi-isolation – ironically parodying the joylessness of virus lockdown.
‘Mooney’ is the manipulative owner of the site who turns their dreams into a nightmarish existence. Although we never see him, hearing him only as an indistinct off-stage voice – his presence hangs ominously in the air throughout the play.
Tony Burchell as Charlie takes us with him on his downward spiraling journey. Burchell makes the most of this very sad figure showing Charlie’s optimism to be a thin veneer for stupidity. I was hoping he would make a final ‘Straw Dogs’ Dustin Hoffman-like last stand against Mooney and other tormentors – but no such luck.
Moa Myerson plays Mave with equal gusto – she goes on her own downward journey to the point where we assume whilst Mooney mentally abuses her husband, with her it moves onto the physical.
Having toyed with them like a cat with mice during the off-season of the caravan park, Mooney finally discards them by taking away their home. Coupled with Charlie also losing his job – the future for the hapless couple looks a bit black over Bill’s mothers.
This is indeed a dark piece, directed relentlessly by Nic Lloyd, but I still left with a grin all over my masked face, as it was just, ‘so good’ to be back watching life theatre again.
There was no bar open for pre or after show drinks – only two of us allowed per row, we were escorted in and ushered out via the shortest distances into the night air, but we all shared a communal smile at being witnesses to this return to theatrical near normality.
As a wise thespian Chinese person once said ‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step’
Mooney and his Caravans runs until Saturday, September 19.
Click here for more information and to book tickets.