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  • Henry Longstaff

Moth - Hope Theatre

Ambitious but deeply and fundamentally flawed

Moth at the Hope Theatre


Pub and fringe theatre is rightly a place for experimentation and discovery, with fresh and emerging creatives able to tread the boards often for the first time outside of the security of education. Debuts are tough for new companies, but the experience can prove invaluable if the learnings are continually applied in future productions and projects. This first play from Antimatter Productions is further proof of this. With a wildly demanding premise, the lack of refinement and maturity shines through in almost every aspect of the piece and a stifling three-hour show is the result.

Eight years after a cataclysmic event involving a particle accelerator, a ball of yarn and a moth wiped out 77% of everything, Meredith has reappeared. No one knows why. The survivors, led by the scientist Nikolai, have been trying to make sense of the disaster and how Meredith’s sudden arrival ties into it all, but the more they learn the less they seem to understand. Antimatter’s dystopian debut seeks to unravel time, physics and human relationships but instead forms a tangled knot that is impossible to untie.

Writer Matt Wilson has seemingly attempted to condense the scale of a ten-part HBO blockbuster drama into a single event, drawing upon all the obvious sci-fi tropes en route. The script tries to dazzle by rattling through huge and complex themes but achieves the polar opposite by crafting a dull evening void of tempo. The monotonous pace is beyond sluggish and is the most obvious downfall of this play. The script, in tandem with the direction and performances, never once deviates from its tedious rhythm causing the text to form a swirling mush that is impossible for audiences to remain engaged with. The aggressive three-hour runtime (advertised as two and a half) is wholly unnecessary, with Wilson opting to repeatedly pad out the script further with monologue after monologue and circular conversations that simply go nowhere. In its current form, this is a script that endeavours to sound grand and clever but instead is overflowing with basic errors that long outstays its welcome.

The actors, bogged down by the muddy script, do little to inject energy into the play. Performances are mostly one note, steeped in solemn and anxious voices as they meander through waves of unconnected anecdotes and bizarre tangents. As Nikolai, Will Osbon manages to uncover droplets of dynamism during the scenes in which he questions Meredith, but these glimmers are few and far between. The cast push on regardless, their hard work in the rehearsal room gloomily invisible. The technical side of the production struggles too. The lighting fails to light the actors properly, leaving them in darkness, equally hindered by the directing choices that position actors outside of the space and in line or behind the audience - great for sight lines.

Whilst this debut may not be the one a budding new company dreams of, there is no doubt that the experience gained with ensure that the next production will be bounds ahead of their first.

Running until 2nd December - Tickets

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