Having this year reached the notable landmark of their 500th new production, the team behind the award-winning lunchtime theatre phenomenon that is “A Play, A Pie and a Pint” in Glasgow West End venue, Òran Mór, have spent much of 2019 resurrecting a few old favourites alongside some strong new work. Fly Me To The Moon, by Northern Irish playwright Marie Jones, was first performed in 2010; sadly, it remains all-too-relevant today.
Jones’s script remains full of life, energy and humour.
Loretta (Sandra McNeeley) and Frances (Julie Austin) are two underpaid social care workers who daily visit the unseen Davey, a disabled elderly man whose only pleasures in a seemingly joyless life are betting a few quid on the horses, and listening to his old Frank Sinatra records. The two women, meantime, are doggedly keeping their respective families’ heads above water, just about. While Francis is genuinely proud of one son, now earning some cash by flogging pirated DVDs, Loretta would honestly “get shot” of her unemployed, computer-game-playing partner except that her own kids “have got attached to him”.
Then, off-stage, Davey dies—and Frances realises that, if they delay informing the authorities for a few hours, the pair can safely split the £80 of his pension that Loretta regularly withdraws for him from the bank every Monday. It’s just stealing from the Government, not Davey, she insists; and a stressed out Loretta eventually agrees. But then the temptation gets worse: on the day he dies, Davey finally wins big on the horses, meaning that if they keep quiet for the best part of 24 hours, they could easily afford to go on a colleague’s hen party overseas.
In Sarah McCardie’s sharply directed production, McNeeley and Austin masterfully hold tight to the authenticity of their characters without ever risking the loss of our sympathies. Despite its potentially depressing subject matter, the soul-destroying poverty on the front line of social care and Meals on Wheels, Jones’s script remains full of life, energy and humour. Nearly a decade on from its original production, Fly Me To The Moon tellingly feels more timely than ever.