Moonlight After Midnight:
**WARNING. This review contains some spoilers. If you have not seen Moonlight After Midnight yet, go now. Do it. Get up from whatever screen you are currently looking at, head to the Courtroom at Arts Court and see this show. **
Moonlight After Midnight, written and performed by Martin Dockery and Vanessa Quesnelle, is a seemingly classic story about the rendezvous of two lovers, which spins its narrative in such a way that by the end you will be questioning whether anything really happened, or if it was all imagined. Though the setting remains the same, serving as an anchor throughout the piece, the tale is so layered that it demands close attention from the audience to decipher who’s playing what and when. That Dockery and Quesnelle are able to so expertly weave a narrative that demands the audience mind to remain active throughout is a testament both to their acting and the quality of play itself. This is not a traditional drama with a conventional plot line; the complexity of the story combined with the excellent character work of the two actors allows this performance to engage both the mind and the soul.
The piece begins with Dockery, known only later as Man in Room, sitting alone on stage. Once Quesnelle, similarly known only later as Girl at Wedding, enters the stage we enter the first layer of fantasy. The two obviously know each other, or so we think. It isn’t until Dockery finally turns around, to face Quesnelle for the first time, and states that he was expecting “somebody else,” that we enter the second layer. This is where the lines of the narrative begin to blur with the only grounding element being the story about the comet.
We delve deeper into the script’s layers through the act of role-play and the reconstruction of memories. Each time a character “walks” in to the hotel room they are someone completely different and, though they always remain Man in Room and Girl at Wedding, the audience is brought further and further into these potential pasts by way of these characters continual creation and recreation of moments in time. It is easy to get lost if you don’t pay attention, however it’s hard not to stay absolutely rapt when the performers on stage are so magnetic. Which leads me to my next point:
I’ve noticed that there is a lot of buzz around the Fringe Courtyard about the brilliance of Martin Dockery. I am not here to dispute this, because I absolutely agree, but I must emphasize the equal brilliance of his counterpart. Dockery’s presence on stage is frenzied and frenetic whereas Quesnelle’s is quiet and smouldering. She is the calm to Dockery’s storm, which works perfectly for this piece about two people who should be together, but ultimately aren’t. Further, Quesnelle is the driving force of the emotion in this show. Where Dockery’s character comes across as flaky and perhaps a little selfish, the Girl at Wedding is unwavering, selfless, and completely aware of her feelings. Though Dockery provides the majority of the laughs, one cannot help but feel immensely for Girl at Wedding who arrives at the hotel room 10 years later to an empty chair.
I really appreciate Dockery and Quesnelle’s efforts to push the boundaries of traditional narrative and story-telling, and this is one of the major reasons why I recommend this show. I further recommend this show based on the fact that these two actors really bring something beautiful to the stage, a natural chemistry, if you will. Playing at the Arts Court Courtroom, seating is limited so get your tickets in advance. It’s well worth it.