Content note: Ruby Moon includes sexual references, adult themes, and simulated violence.
Ad Astra present Matt Cameron’s Australian gothic suburban thriller Ruby Moon, directed by Susan O’Toole-Cridland and starring Sandra Harman and Gary Farmer-Trickett as distraught parents Ray and Sylvie Moon.
Written in 2003 and tapping into the suburban paranoia that prevailed in the wake of Daniel Morecombe’s disappearance that same year, Ruby Moon is a darkly fractured fairytale; a little girl sets off to visit her grandmother at the end of the cul de sac, but she never arrives. Desperate for answers, her parents put up flyers, and go to door-to-door interviewing their neighbours in Flaming Tree Grove – suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Increasingly dark and absurd as the play progresses, Ruby Moon explores the impact of tragedy on one family and their community, filling gaps in their knowledge with suspicion and guilt.
Sandra Harman and Gary Farmer-Trickett both delivered dynamic, highly physical and nuanced performances in this two-hander, each bringing to life a wide range of characters, with distinct physical and vocal attributes. Farmer-Trickett’s physical comedy was especially notable, and the chemistry and trust between the two actors was evident.
The distinctive piano melody of Gary Jules’ cover of Mad World was used effectively in scene transitions, accompanied by repeating physical motions, and sound design by Theo Bourgoin was a key part of the atmosphere and storytelling. Lighting design by B’Elanna Hill cast an eerie glow through the Moon’s living room or added to the eccentricity of their unusual neighbours. Set and costume design by Kim Phillips utilised a strong colour scheme and impressive attention to detail, with simple costume layering adding to each distinct characterisation of the neighbours.
I saw an earlier production of Ruby Moon, with the same cast and director, in 2019 and it was interesting to note the differences. Many of the characters in this 2022 production have a darker, more unstable undertone, but the moments of humour and levity remain strong to balance this out. Even if you saw Ruby Moon in 2019, there is certainly something new to experience and discover in this Ad Astra production.
Ad Astra’s chilling, atmospheric production of Ruby Moon draws the audience into Ray and Sylvie’s living room to wait and wonder with them, as they try again and again to unravel what could have happened to their little girl.
Ruby Moon will play at Ad Astra, Fortitude Valley, from 21 July – 13 August 2022.