Full Disclosure: I saw this show in the first preview, so aspects of the performances and staging may have changed since I saw it.
Ellie Moon follows up her verbatim play from 2017 Asking For It stepping out of the #metoo and Ghomeshi moment, and into a complex story of a family dealing with their history. The play centres on two sisters and their dying mother who we never see, navigating their relationships with one another, with her, and with the men in their lives. The only man we see is Kate (the older sister’s) boyfriend, though we also hear about their father, and their mom’s new husband.
I felt as though the first part of the play, setting up the relationship between Kate and Kyle, was sluggish and lacking in urgency. It lasted an extraordinarily long time and felt like it was trying to fit too many ideas in (I won’t give spoilers here…). It is when Kate’s sister, Ruby, arrives uninvited, that the play begins to sing. In my opinion, it could do with dramaturgical work that helps it cut to the chase sooner, because the complex tension between the sisters is what gets really interesting to watch, how their behaviour to one another and in the presence of one another is so clearly different than it is with others. Ellie Elwand sparkles with fiery intensity, and Michael Ayres is extremely likeable as the boyfriend stuck in the middle of the sibling hellstorm.
Director Sarah Kitz does well helping the actors navigate the density of the material and creating some nice relationships. The choice to use a thrust setup didn’t quite work for me; I could sense what she was going for…a voyeuristic sense that the walls have just fallen off this apartment, but with audience on 3 sides (though predominantly on 2) the actors had to serve too many angles, causing the blocking to come off as stilted. I think it could have benefitted instead from an alley, perhaps, giving the actors more freedom.
Overall I think there is a seed of an extremely interesting play in here, and I hope it will be uncovered through further development of the script.