Ernest And The Pale Moon
  • By Pete Shaw
  • |
  • 6th Aug 2009
  • |
  • ★★★★★

Author Oliver Lansley garnered considerable and well deserved praise for his Fringe hit, The Terrible Infants, which popped up at the Pleasance in 2007 and enjoyed a runaway success ever since (most recently at the Udderbelly's noteworthy appearance on the Southbank in London). So now back at the Pleasance with Ernest And The Pale Moon, he has created big expectations.I needn't have worried. This piece is every bit as strong in narrated style and poetic substance as its older sibling, but where Infants offered a patchwork of tall tales that crossed the tastes of all generations, Ernest is a far darker play that focuses on a single story - and that story isn't exactly what you'd describe as 'kid friendly'. At the top of the show Ernest Hemel is a broken man. Cowering in an asylum that may well have been decorated by Tim Burton on one of his more psychotic days, what follows is a distinctly non-linear account of what got him there and why his dementia is only quelled by masking the full glare of the moon from his cell window. Director Emma Earle builds a beautifully rich physical tapestry as the cast skilfully bounce the narrative between themselves. These multi-talented actors often pick up instruments to seamlessly add depth with their own underscore, or conjure sound effects from inventive use of props. The author himself, Lansley plays the role of Ernest, accompanied by Grace Carter as the frail young girl who lives in the apartment block opposite him; Joe Woolmer, her neighbour; and Rachel Dawson as the asylum nurse and Ernest's mother. It would be unfair to single out any performance, as there is no weak link in this troupe, although I did really fall in love with Carter's innocent, china-doll portrayal of Gwendoline and Woolmer's plucky, optimistic Thomas.Make no bones then, this will sell out. It will appeal to anyone who wants to be immersed in a noir horror and swept along with such beautifully choreographed storytelling that you sit mouth-agog at the sheer spectacle of it all.Lansley, book the next couple of years out. You have another hit.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Assembly George Square Studios

The House

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Grace Notes

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

The Jungle Book

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★
Multiple Venues

A Spoonful Of Sherman

★★★★★
Pleasance Theatre

Assassins

★★★★

The Blurb

Award-winning Theatre Company, Les Enfants Terribles return to the Edinburgh Festival for their eighth successive year in association with newly formed Bristol based company Pins and Needles with a spine-chilling tale of obsession and murder from writer Oliver Lansley and the multiple award-winning production and musical team behind ‘The Terrible Infants’.

Inspired by the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Ernest and the Pale Moon’ is a noir horror based upon a short story by Oliver Lansley about a man who spends his days watching the beautiful young woman who lives in the apartment block opposite. Upon seeing her with another man he is thrown into a jealous rage and driven to murder, though all is not what it may at first seem and slowly Ernest’s guilt sends him on a spiralling descent into madness. The piece will contain live music, inventive design, narrative twists and turns and physical storytelling to provide a thrilling and terrifying experience.

Oliver Lansley is a published playwright (work includes ‘The Infant’ and ‘Immaculate’ published by Nick Hern Books), he also works extensively in television and is the writer of ‘FM’ (ITV 2) starring Chris O’Dowd (The Boat that Rocked) and Kevin Bishop (Star Stories); and ‘Whites’ (BBC 2) starring Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek) and Pam Ferris (The Darling Buds of May). He is currently developing various other theatre productions and television series including a project executive produced by Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant. He was also recently named one of the ‘Broadcast Hotshot’s’ by Broadcast magazine and won the ‘Multi-talented’ award at Channel 4’s 4-Talent Awards.