GUILT OF HOPE AND DESIRE
The idea that the amount of guilt one feels depends more on one’s character than one’s crime is the subtext of Marie Jones’s play Fly Me to the Moon, an entertaining and poignant black comedy which Ms. Jones also directs.
When kind-hearted but financially strapped home attendants Loretta Mackey (Tara Lynne O’Neill) and Frances Shields (Katie Tumelty) discover that Davy, their 84-year-old stroke victim client has died, they delay reporting his death in order to withdraw and pocket his last pension payment of 120 pounds. This minor delay and relatively innocent deception gives way to other deceptions and more delays, with the co-workers’ situation becoming more precarious in the process.
The women’s squeamishness about Davy’s death and their disinclination to tell anyone about it are at the core of Fly Me to the Moon and Ms. Jones’s masterfully crafted script, at once scrupulously worked out and effortlessly dynamic, provides us with persuasive reasons for the women’s actions, including their final solution, which borders on the absurd. But one gets the sense that there’s something more happening here, that the cause of their reluctance isn’t merely pragmatic but existential; Loretta and Frances seem to feel guilty about Davy’s death (the fact of it and likely its manner – he fell off the toilet post-bowel movement). There is no rational reason for this guilt; they are in no way responsible. But they are in his bungalow when he dies and they are kind and they are poor and they feel guilty. And they feel guilty for wanting the money, a hundred and twenty pounds, sixty pounds each, a meager sum in the grand scheme of things but a meaningful one to them during these hard economic times. (A comparison can’t help but be made between these women and the financial movers who, arguably, contributed to the economic crash while guiltlessly making millions or even billions in the process.) From that perspective one could interpret the women’s questionable actions following the death as being in some way designed to get them into trouble commensurate with the guilt they feel. This lovely nuance gives this simple, warm, funny play its spice, which lingers on the palate for a while after the show is over.
Ms. Jones directs the actors expertly and both Ms. O’Neil and Ms. Tumelty deliver terrifically energized, well-crafted and sympathetic performances, infusing their distinct characters with just the right mix of kindness, anxiety and avarice. Except for occasional speeches – which the characters make from an abstract space indicated by spot lighting – all the action takes place in the dead man’s bedroom, on a simple yet very serviceable set with useful lighting and costumes, all designed by Niall Rea.
photos by Vinnie Loughran
Fly Me to the Moon
Green Shoot Productions and 59E59 Theaters in New York City
scheduled to end on September 30, 2012
for tickets, visit http://www.59e59.org