If you are like most people, you have had at least one day in your life where everything that could go wrong, has. A day when you’ve said something you regret or done something less than kosher and the more you try to fix it, the worse it gets and the more you dig yourself into a deep, dark hole.
In Fly Me to the Moon such is the day for Francis Shields and Loretta Mackie. They are two homecare providers living and working in Belfast. The two get along well and as they work they banter about their disappointments, frustrations, money problems, and Loretta’s son’s dodgy business schemes.
The duo look after an elderly man named Davy, whom they are fond of but know little about other than that he loves Frank Sinatra, especially his song Fly Me to the Moon, and betting on the ponies, and that he is alone in the world. Davy is so disabled that he is dependent on Loretta, Francis, and others to take care of his every need.
After Davy unexpectedly dies, the shocked and saddened women discover an unclaimed winning race ticket on the bedroom bureau. This presents the first of several moral dilemmas: should they leave it or cash it in? It doesn’t take much for Loretta to convince Francis that Davy would want them to claim the winnings. But for them to lay claim, Davy will have to “stay alive” for longer than his best-before date.
It’s a small lie, a step out of character for Francis and Loretta. But it leads to another lie, and another, and another until the day turns very dark and their lives become morally murky indeed.
In other hands, Fly Me to the Moon could easily have been a noir-type melodrama about shifting morals, character flaws, and the wages of deceit. But Irish playwright Marie Jones takes a completely different tack by making it humorous to the nth degree.
Fly Me to the Moon is enormously funny, and the deeper Loretta and Francis fall into their tangled web of deception, the more hilarious it is. This is a character-driven story and the characters’ flawed actions and reactions, rapid-fire dialogue, and slapstick physicality, along with the plot’s quirky twists and turns, make it not only comical but also oddly heart-warming. This one-act, 80-minute play speeds by and you cannot imagine how it is all going to end.
Deidre Gillard-Rowlings and Carmen Grant do a superb job of portraying Francis and Loretta. While both actresses often go over the top physically and emotionally, they never lose the underlying humanity of their characters. Loretta and Francis are not only believable but also sympathetic. The audience laughs at the havoc they unleash, never at the characters themselves.
This is a well-written play that seamlessly weaves narration into dialogue and action without interrupting the flow of the story. The set and lighting evoke just the right mood – an ordinary, old-fashioned, rather sad and lonely bedroom – as do the costumes. The actors are in almost constant motion and this must have been a challenge to stage, but the end result is that the characters hold the audience’s attention at all times.
The only blemish in an otherwise terrific production is that it takes time to get into the rhythm of the characters’ Irish accents. More than a few lines are lost in translation until that happens.
Fly Me to the Moon is a darkly delightful comedy that you should not miss. Its witty dialogue, relatable characters, humour, and quirky plot conspire to make it highly entertaining.
Fly Me to the Moon
By Marie Jones
Featuring Deidre Gillard-Rowlings and Carmen Grant
Directed by Krista Jackson
The Grand Theatre
January 12-30, 2016
www.grandtheatre.com or 519-672-8800