The women of Belfast are given voices to tell stories of battle, passion, and hope in Alice Malseed’s new play, The Half Moon. I caught up with Alice just before the show starts a run at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, before jumping over to the Edinburgh Festival next month.
Telling the stories of many characters through many generations, The Half Moon has a sense of the epic. Tell us about the piece and the central theme that holds everything together.
The Half Moon is about four generations of women from one family in Tiger’s Bay in North Belfast. From the early 1940s through to the present day, we see each of these women trying to change their circumstances, to better their community and their lives.
All four women want to escape The Bay. But leaving is never as simple as just leaving They all have strong voices. They question their surroundings. Each is caught between the pull of home and the drive for adventure. That's the throughline that ties them together.
It’s about love, heartbreak, choice, and hope.
Having the same performer (Ruby Campbell) play all four women, along with a wide range of supporting characters around the peripheries, brings an intimacy to the epic. Is this why you decided to make The Half Moon a one-woman show?
I've never actually counted but Ruby thinks there are over 20 characters in all.
The play demonstrates how the generational image of those who came before us affects our every step, every decision. It explores how changing that prescribed narrative is possible, but only with hard work.
Having one performer telling all the stories physically demonstrates that work in motion.
Also, Ruby is such an incredible performer, it feels right for her to have the whole show.
You’re doing your bit to bring more woman’s stories to the stage. Why do you think this is still something of a rarity in theatre?
That's the patriarchy, baby!
I can't work out of if it's an effort or an accident, but I'm not one bit happy about it and I'm trying to change it one play at a time.
Belfast is a common setting for your plays and features strongly in The Half Moon. How important is Belfast in this play?
So important. Belfast is in the blood and the bones and the rhythm of this piece.
Belfast is there in how the characters talk and how they walk. It’s in what they eat and where they go. Everything is dictated by the architecture and politics and psychogeography of the city.
I love Belfast. But it's messy and complicated. It’s clear that the characters feel that too.
Finally, give us your 50-word pitch. Why should our readers book to see The Half Moon when it plays the Pleasure Dome in Edinburgh from 2nd – 28th August?
If you’ve got a complicated relationship with where you’re from, this play is cathartic.
It’s spine tingly, goosebumpy. In an hour. you’ll laugh, cry, feel hope and joy.
Ruby gives the performance of a lifetime. She makes this show a complete *ahem* gem. Miss it and you’ll have FOMO forever!