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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Son Called Moon, at Chapel Off Chapel - 90 minutes, with no interval

Inspired by a journey of discovery undertaken by its creator, writer and composer Ari Jacob, Son Called Moon is a cerebral work featuring a litany of folk music.

 

It concerns a child called Moon who becomes a man and from an early age is totally dependent upon the protection of Sun.

 

Sun promises to never leave him, unless he disobeys her by effectively drinking the cool aid, in this case a pink orb.

 

She warns him that to do so will see him burn up and turn to ash.

 

For a long while that keeps him in check. He is driven by ritual and she remains a calming influence when he is distressed.

 

But increasingly that is not enough for him and he awakens each morning miserable.

 

She warns him that if he walks away, he will never see her again.

 

Nevertheless, he knows it is time to break the shackles – to have the freedom of choice, come what may – so that is exactly what he does.

 

Even when, despite her warning, unexpectedly she fronts up again and tries to reel him back in, he sticks to his guns.

 

In fact, suddenly the tables are turned and Moon charts another path for Sun, where both can find meaningful co-existence.

 

Ari Jacob set out to create a strongly symbolic universal story about finding one’s individual true north.

 

His struggles included confusion about his sexuality. He moved to Israel, immersed himself in yoga and embraced philosophy and a quieter, more solitary existence.

 

When COVID hit, he was met with another wave of spiritual inspiration.

 

Son Called Moon is about resolving conflict, about a wounded soul looking to heal and transform.

 

You can take it literally, as in celestial beings, the Sun and the Moon, wrestling for control, beginning with the Sun holding the cards.

 

Or, you can see it figuratively, as in a search for meaning, a poetic narrative based on self-exploration and identity.

 

As you enter the theatre, the first impression is powerful.

 

Straw is strewn all over the large stage area, with musicians and actors gleefully socialising.

 

Behind them the lights bring out the beauty of the stained-glass windows, which are a feature of the Chapel Theatre.

 

Immediately, I was transported to the domain of American tribal love rock musical Hair, which dates back to 1967.

 

Son Called Moon is softer. It is driven by narrative components, music and song. On stage at various times are up to six performers.

 

Aviel Hurvitz is a young Moon and Jacob his older incarnation, while Irish songstress Claire Burns is Sun.

 

They are joined by three sages or goddesses, who observe all. They are reminiscent of the Fates from Greek mythology.

 

In this case, they – the ensemble – have lovingly been named The Phases. Amira Susskind is Sahar, Shaya Avitan is Levana and Lucy May Knight is Yareach.

 

Individually and collectively their mellifluous vocals find favour with the backing of a nine-piece band (one of which is Jacob who is adept at piano and guitar).

 

Musical direction is from Gal Shemi.

 

Midway through the 90-minute production, there is a pause in proceedings.

 

The theatre lights are turned up and Jacob invites those in the audience that would like to join the cast on stage in song.

 

It is undoubtedly a feel-good experience, which is how I see the cleansing nature of the work as a whole.  

 

Fluidity of movement is integral to the production and in that regard movement director Yakira Abraham had a large part to play.

 

The overall artistic direction is the domain of Daniel Boggio who, along with director James Culter, has brought a strong ethereal quality to the creative endeavour.

 

That is aided, in no small measure, by the striking, colourful lighting design, which includes a surfeit of glass pendant lighting, by Jason Bovaird.

 

The sound design by Marcello Lo Ricco is soothing.  

 

You can make of Son Called Moon as you will.

 

Suffice to say, I took from it a reinforcement of the power of the mind to determine the direction you take in life that is the most consequential.

 

If you are stuck, be bold enough to step into the unknown and make it your own, for only then are you truly free.

 

Son Called Moon is on at Chapel Off Chapel until 25th June, 2024.

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