Moonlight on Leith, by Emilie Robson and Laila Noble, at theSpaceTriplex is inspired by the ‘Save Leith Walk’ campaign; a grassroots movement seeking to preserve the historic status and distinctive character of this port area in the north of Edinburgh. Leith was made a separate burgh in 1833 only to be merged with the capital in 1920 wherein it remains subsumed, but it still retains its own indentity.
a fun show with a serious message
It’s a clever title that draws on the ring of its more famous musical counterpart. Very much in the style of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and Jim Cartwright’s Road, it explores the damage of gentrification and the vitality of the local community as seen through the lives of many characters who represent its diversity and eccentricities in both prose and verse. From the bustle of The Walk to the stillness of The Shore we are introduced to the assorted souls at the heart of everyday life as the moon gazes down on the streets.
Debi Pirie directs this ensemble production of students who form REDCAP Theatre in their debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Music, singing and comedy flow freely between the residents, the students, the shopkeepers, the police officers, those tending their allotments and the drunkard lying face-down in the gutter. There is even Hank, the philosopher cat, who maintains that 'hell is other people'. It’s a fun show with a serious message. The script supplies the material for a production packed with pace and full of energy. It’s unfortunate that those two elements are largely missing in the low key, laid back performances that dominate. All the potential is there, but the motivation seems to be lacking.
Nevertheless, Moonlight on Leith is an urgent reminder that it’s people who make a community through their individuality, the services they provide and their neighbourliness. Destroying the old buildings and wiping out small businesses will destroy the pulse that makes Leith throb and obliterate its long history.