With the nights drawing in and the temperature dropping, a trip to the Vaults transports you to the sultry American south, with the first UK staging of Sam Shepard’s Ages of the Moon, writes Christopher Peacock.
A front porch, two chairs and a rusty ‘finicky’ ceiling fan are all that adorn the stage. Then our protagonists Ames and Byron take their seats on the porch and sip on their Kentucky bourbon. These old friends are brought together when Ames’ infidelity leaves his marriage in bits and he turns to Byron for some solace.
In a play of little action it feels more of a study of humanity. Shepard explores themes of relationships and insecurities but the main focus is that of ageing. Beckett-esque in style, Ames and Byron are Shepard’s Vladimir and Estragon. However, rather than waiting for Godot these two are waiting for an eclipse.
Two-handers rely heavily on the chemistry of its counterparts. Christopher Fairbank as Ames and Joseph Marcell as Byron both handle their roles well yet they struggle for any real chemistry. At times you find it hard to buy into their friendship. This leads to the play feeling quite flat and makes the hour-long piece struggle for pace. Having not been revived too often since it’s premier 10 years ago you can understand why the roles are not often reprised, especially seeing that the roles were specifically written for its original cast of Stephen Rae and Sean McGinley.
As a study of ageing, the effects of alcohol and life generally, Ages of the Moon certainly entertains in parts. With more performances you will find that the pacing and energy will improve, especially in the very capable hands of Christopher Fairbank and Joseph Marcell.
Ages of the Moon is on at The Vaults, Launcelot Street, London SE1 7AD until 24th November. Times: Tuesday to Saturday @ 8pm, Saturday and Sunday @ 3pm. Phone: 0844 815 7141
Photo: Mark Senior