‘I Am A Moon’ was inventive, memorable, well-acted and hopelessly crippled by technical difficulties. Normally I would turn a blind eye to these, but the show is only running for two performances and these issues almost certainly won’t be sorted out by tomorrow.
The show is several kinds of strange. It begins with a overweight Asian actress playing bass clarinet while dodgy projections of space judder their way across a screen behind her, largely blocked out by her silhouette. This introduces the main theme of the evening: obstructed projection. Almost all of the dialogue in ‘I Am A Moon’ is in Chinese, and for most of the evening the surtitled translation was hidden behind body-parts, suitcases, lighting rigs and clarinetists. A shame, as much of the acting was superb. During one particularly impassioned speech, the only visible words were “yellow bell”, “great wall”, “erotic” and “scientifically”.
The plot follows a rather episodic three-strand structure, tracking the lives of three central characters: overweight clarinet-playing Angela, a chap in his underwear identified by the projection screen as “AN ASIAN MAN”, and the ASIAN MAN’s estranged childhood friend, Jimmy (only present as a prerecorded projection). Angela’s poignant, articulate and wildly funny dissection of social insecurity was the highlight of the show, while the ASIAN MAN’s account of falling in love with his favourite porn-star was strangely compelling, if a bit worrying.
The quality of the translation is frequently bad. One example: In what would have been a dramatic highlight, a Chinese pop-star gives a beautiful and deeply unsettling account of watching a careless woman’s hands on a piano. With each touch, he tells us, it was as if he heard the sound of burning – a soft ‘sss... sss’. Whoever programmed the subtitles clearly thought that onomatopoeia doesn’t work untranslated. To help us past this impenetrable language barrier, “Sizzle!” is projected in large letters, complete with quote marks, every time the actor makes this sound. This could have been so good. Sigh. Or rather, “Sigh!”