Howl at the Moon
South Street Arts Centre
Tom Adams’s new show is a musical trip to the dark side of the moon.
It is an existential pondering of what Michael Collins, the astronaut who stayed behind to take care of Apollo 11 whilst Neil and Buzz walked on the moon, might have done in those moments when he circled behind the moon and lost contact with Houston.
We learn very little about what Michael Collins might have done in those 20 minutes, but we learn plenty about what Tom Adams would do if no one was watching: he’d sing and dance. Clearly, this is what he does even when people are watching. There is a great comedy in his childlike, honest performance, and in his knowing glances to the audience.
The control panel of the Apollo 11 is represented with an impressive array of drum machines, samplers and synthesisers. Each tangent that Tom explores in his musings is illustrated with a soundscape, sampled beats, the noises of Citroen 2CV, guitar, or other musical devices. His physicality, dance moves and performance are all very self-referential, and it is here that his charm and humour shine through.
This show has at least one foot firmly placed in the stand-up comedy genre, but draws on theatrical devices to create atmosphere. It is not linear, it tells no real story, it is instead, a series of thoughts and ideas, illustrated intelligently and with great humour, with music and dancing. It intends to explore loneliness—there are few places more remote than the other side of the moon after all—but it doesn’t really tell us much about loneliness, just a nod to the importance of human connection.
A thread of a story runs through the piece, an event in Tom's own life. We are introduced to it in the form of a female voice that we only fully understand at the end. But it is not present strongly enough to really lure us in, and its connection to the story of Michael Collins is unclear. It does, however, provide the piece with a shift in mood at the very end, leaving us thoughtful as well as entertained.
The piece works well as a series of comedic ponderings on a theme, with cleverly layered musical interludes and charming physicality. A scene using aerosol cans to mimic space flight is both hilarious and well performed. Clearly, his six months of not fitting in at a street dance class have paid off.
Other physical theatre devices are used well, to represent the moving of the shadows of the spaceship in orbit. It has elements of great skill within it. But what stands out, is his own enjoyment in performing this show. It is palpable and infectious and, whilst the content is not gripping, it is clever, funny and entertaining throughout.
Reviewer: Liz Allum