Marie Jones: Fly me to the Moon as part of A Play, A Pie & A Pint
Well, the rest of the audience loved it, applauded loudly, and laughed almost all the way through. I found it impossible to enjoy the humour, much of which seemed to me to consist of laughing at the opinions and actions of the two main protagonists, Weegie care assistants Loretta [Sandra McNeeley] and Francis [Julie Austin].
Into Davey’s bedsit comes Francis: Frank Sinatra’s singing, but she switches him off, plugs herself into something considerably livelier and is bopping away to it when Loretta joins her. She’s late because this wet Monday she had to take her son’s football boots to school: this meant Francis had to go against health and safety regulations and do her back in taking Davey to the toilet by herself as he couldn’t wait. She’s done her back in: how badly – “Is it claim bad?”
They chat about their families and their constant need of money as they start to redd up the room: Francis’ son is doing well for himself, flogging pirated dvds which he makes himself “most professionally”, while her current partner’s encouraging reaction to her invitation to a friend’s hen do in Barcelona – “you deserve a break” is to assume that he’s having an affair and wants her out of the way. There were lots of laughs from the audience – sympathy with the views being expressed? Or at the accurate depiction of people who probably won’t be coming to laugh at themselves at Oran Mor or the Traverse?
Periodically the women yell to Davey, asking whether he’s finished in the bathroom, but there’s no reply. When Loretta finally investigates [Francis refuses to go] she finds Davey dead on the floor. The two women panic as they try to work out what to do – and this is, for me, when things started to go sour: Loretta is genuinely trying to do what’s right, but Loretta starts to see the opportunity to help themselves to the pension they would normally collect for Davey on a Monday, trying to convince Loretta that “it’s what Davy would have wanted” – rather them than the taxman! Francis’ intimate knowledge of CSI prompts her to work out possible scenarios and traps to avoid as they try to create a way to collect the money and then ‘discover’ Davey’s death: things become increasingly complex when they discover that the £2 bet he placed yesterday has resulted in a win of £500…surely Davey would have wanted them to have that, too?
It’s clear that these two women, who have been caring for Davey for the last two years, are almost the only people he sees: they are poorly paid and always struggling for money, and see it as only fair that they should get some sort of reward. I have great sympathy for anyone in that plight – but I really struggled to divorce myself from the reality that someone had died while the thought of personal gain led Francis to manipulate Loretta into agreeing to her first suggestion of sharing the pension, and couldn’t appreciate or laugh at the subsequent scheming, quarrelling and ultimately farcical shenanigans. The writing and acting were excellent, but I wasn’t comfortable with the characters or their reactions to the situation in which they found themselves, and I’m not at all sure about the ending…
You’ll have to go and see whether you agree with me, or everyone else in the audience!
Marie Jones: Fly me to the Moon as part of A Play, A Pie & A Pint Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Run Ended.