It’s 1926, the First World War is over and every day the villages of Newfoundland are being abandoned by their young for a new life in the big city. However, eighteen year-old Jacob Mercer has come home to Coley’s Point from Toronto, to win back his former sweetheart Mary Snow, who he abruptly left over a year ago. By the light of a moon-filled night, the former lovers meet to confront their past choices and contemplate a possible future together.
Directed by Ravi Jain, starring Kawa Ada and Mayko Nguyen and featuring live music by Toronto singer-songwriter Ania Soul, this touching drama lures you in with it’s witty lines and strong emotional connection. With only two actors on stage the audience becomes the voyeurs, peeking in to a heartfelt last reconciliation attempt. If Jacob can’t win over Mary tonight, then he’ll lose her forever.
In just 90 minutes French constructs a whole background of our characters presented in short stories that form the basis of their separation. And though it takes some time for the audience to connect with the characters, the slower build up provides a stronger connection where towards the end, audiences are literally leaning forward in anticipation of responses. The play’s emotional development is moved along with eerie yet beautifully haunting music performed by Soul (who fronts the St. Royals band) and her voice as narrator, calm, collective almost like a guide leads the audience through this scene we are secretly watching. Of course, you can’t have a powerful play without powerful actors and that comes across easily from Ada and Nguyen who play a good power tug-of-war throughout in order to maintain their stance in the relationship.
Salt-Water Moon is David French’s best known and most successful of the Mercer plays. It was an immediate hit when it premiered at Tarragon Theatre in 1984, and continues to be produced around the world. Salt-Water Moon is the recipient of the 1985 Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Drama, the Dora Mavor Moore Award for outstanding new play, a Hollywood Drama-Logue Critics Award and was a finalist for both the Chalmers Award and the Governor-General’s Award for Drama.
David French (1939–2010) is one of Canada’s most celebrated playwrights, and one of the first to write distinctly Canadian stories. Born in the outport of Coley’s Point, Newfoundland, French was inducted into the Newfoundland Arts of Honour in 1981 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001. Among his works are the semi-autobiographical Mercer plays: Leaving Home, Of The Fields, Lately, Salt-Water Moon, 1949 and Soldier’s Heart. This quintet of plays has also touched audiences across Canada and in the U.S., Europe, South America and Australia. French’s other works include the smash-hit backstage comedy Jitters, the thriller Silver Dagger and an adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie.
Salt-Water Moon runs February 23 – March 13, 2016.
Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at www.factorytheatre.ca, by phone at 416-504-9971 or in-person at Factory’s Box Office, 125 Bathurst Street (at Adelaide).