Musings on the Moon
|Address:||414 Mason Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
The Moonrisers—Seeking Answers
Christopher Magee as Fernando, Melissa Ortiz as Celine, Christian Haines as Bardamu and Christopher Magee as Darwin. Photo: Taylor Lennox
Review by Judith M. Wilson
Imagination can take us on some wonderful journeys. All it takes is a question or the germ of an idea, as well as the willingness to see where it leads, to set it into motion. In The Moonrisers—by The Moonrisers—which opens in its world premiere at the Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco on Friday January 26, the imagining comes from an unlikely source—four homeless people who contemplate the moon and set out to solve the mystery of what it really is. The script is clever; it’s in the hands of a talented cast; and the result is an engaging evening of theater.
The four homeless characters, who share a penchant for wine, set out on their unlikely voyage of discovery after Celine, played by Melissa Ortiz, wakes up to observe the moon and senses that something about it isn’t quite right, making her looking at it more intently. The others awaken, and a discussion about the moon follows, and despite their circumstance, the four derelicts prove to be articulate individuals, whose conversation has a philosophical bent as they consider the possibilities. They decide to get some answers amidst changing theories and speculation, and they have some petty moments, but that’s part of their humanity.
The playwright is Christopher Magee, who plays Darwin. His brother Michael Magee plays Ferdinand, and director Christian Haines plays Bardamu to complete the foursome. Jayme Catalano and Angel Hertsle play fierce warrior sisters, Ambrosias and Augustine, respectively, and rounding out the cast are Megan Toth in dual roles as Mr. Blacktooth and the Spirit of the Moon and Taylor Lennox as Snatcher.
The stage in the black-box theater is simple, putting the focus squarely on the characters and their thoughts about the moon. It makes the production dependent on the acting, and the performers deliver, with finely-tuned performances that capture their characters and make their adventures meaningful, while their attire further defines their individual personalities.
The Moonrisers—the company of players—was founded in Missoula, Montana, in 2014 and made the move to San Francisco in 2017. The Moonrisers is their eighth original production and the second in San Francisco. Originality and the freedom to pursue new ideas are at its core, as the players work to create exciting and accessible works of theatre. “No matter how we love them, there is always a new, more exciting idea that just can’t seem to wait,” says Christopher Magee.
That spirit and the ability to strike out in unexpected directions shines through in the play through characters willing to embrace new ideas—as long as reality doesn’t intrude too far. And that is part of The Moonrisers' charm.
The Moonrisers plays on Friday, January 26, Saturday, January 27, Thursday, February 1, Friday, February 7, and Saturday, February 3, at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street, San Francisco. Showtime is at 8 p.m. For more information and a link to Brown Paper Tickets, go to www.phoenixtheatresf.org.
All profits from the production will go to the Glide Foundation, which works to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization.