The Moth (The Covid-19 Monologues #3)

Paul Herzberg
Elysium Theatre Company

The Moth

The Moth, the third of Elysium Theatre Company’s COVID-19 Monologues is, as is acknowledged during the performance, more of an anecdote than a full play.

John Gabriel (Victor Power) is a black man whose admits in the past he has responded with violence when confronting racists. Yet when he met someone who was not only a Boer but a former member of the South African Special Forces Brigade who supported the Apartheid regime, he was unable to take any action as the man told a tale that was so disquieting, all he could do was listen. Now John wants to share the tale with a wider audience.

There is no direct connection with the current health crisis in the monologue which, although short, has tremendous power. This can be attributed to the lyricism of the script and the passion of the performance.

Paul Herzberg’s script is highly evocative. John sets the scene for the story reminiscing about things that gave him nightmares in the past and the poetic tone of the dialogue eases the audience into a tale of possible reincarnation or souls lingering after death. As with the ghost stories of M R James, the effect of the story is not so much terrifying as disquieting; a sense of something unnatural.

Victor Power has a strong physical presence and gives an intense performance. Yet his occasional glances away from the camera create the impression he is disturbed by the tale he is recounting. It heightens the tension in the monologue; you can’t help but feel if someone like John Gabriel, who can take care of himself, is upset by the story, the rest of us are bound to be likewise troubled.

Director Jake Murray emphasises the haunting nature of the tale. Years after the event, John Gabriel can still hear the noise of the train upon which the encounter took place.

The Moth is a short tale but one that lingers.

Reviewer: David Cunningham