Salt-Water Moon ★★★★ Finborough Theatre | January 3 - 28, 2023

Chronologically the first in David French's "Mercer Plays," Salt-Water Moon recounts the complicated courtship of Mary Snow and Jacob Mercer. Their story parallels the history of Newfoundland, a former British colony which joined Canada in 1949, but which at this point in time is suffering from the trauma caused by the small territory's participation in World War I. The war has threatened the old social compacts. It exposes the young to a wider world and leads to a questioning of the island's almost feudal system of governance. Mary Snow may be trapped in servitude and given to superstition, but in gazing at the stars, she is also intrigued by the wonders of science and a larger universe. Still, she remains distrustful of the change represented by Jacob Mercer, who apparently abandoned her in a search for adventure. Jerome, son of a local luminary, might be a safer bet to ensure her future. The play's clever counterpointing of the love story with its larger context makes for thought-provoking theatre and director, Peter Kavanagh, has done a fine job of not letting the history overwhelm the personal, although a didactic element does sometimes seem to creep in. Joseph Potter brought terrific energy to the role of Jacob and his enthusiasm for his alter-ego, Tom Mix, was utterly charming. As Mary, Bryony Miller did a wonderful job of projecting a tight self-protective practicality with the longing for something more. Although both actors occasionally struggled with the distinctive Newfoundland accent, they more than made up for this slight deficiency with the conviction that they brought to their characters. Salt-Water Moon is an engaging love story, a thoughtful commentary on emerging social identity and in this production is must-see theatre.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Lucy Hayes.

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