Orange County Theatre Reviews

(photo by Stephen Rack)

Written By Daniella Litvak 

This is the synopsis for Night Moths on the Wing (hereafter referred to as “Night Moths”):

“Civilization has broken down; everything is scarce, thousands have disappeared, and rebel factions fight the national army.  When rebel General Victor Maylor is arrested and secretly delivered to an unofficial prison camp, he expects to be executed…but chief interrogator Michael Shaw does not want him dead –not yet.  Shaw wants information and will do whatever it takes to get that information.  But while the men relentlessly engage in a battle of wills, are they blind to a more elusive enemy that could destroy them both?”[1]

Primarily I thought this would be a riff on the classic setup of locking two chessmasters in a room together and letting them go at it while they challenge and change each other along the way.  While there are scenes of that flavor occurring between Shaw (David Carl Golbeck) and Maylor (John J. Pistone), Nights Moths is not really about Shaw’s interrogation of Maylor.

There are other characters involved.  When Shaw is not interrogating him, Maylor is left under the watch of three young soldiers: Rudy Houden (Jeffrey Rolle, Jr.), Garber (Jazi Davis) and Moose (Connor Dugard).  So the play consists of various permutations of character interactions, and through those interactions comes a lot of reflection over weighty topics: loss, transformation, violence and moths to name a few.

The set is simple but effective.  Some footlockers, some chairs, and an olive drab tarp in the background creates the impression of being at a forlorn military prison.  My favorite visual from the show was the use of light to depict Maylor’s cage.  I liked the idea of using an intangible substance that is usually a symbol of hope as the material of a cage.

Like the set, the costuming is direct and to the point.  All the characters wear fatigues or military coats in hues of green and brown, so it is apparent from the second they step onto the stage that the characters are part of an armed force.  Pistone’s character is also wearing fatigues in the same colors.  On one hand this emphasizes the not so different nature of the national army and the rebels.  On the other hand this may have been a missed opportunity to interject more contrast in the visuals and made Maylor more distinct from the others.  The characters take off their coats and jackets, but other than that the costumes remain static.  It would have been nice if there had been more use of costuming to reflect the mental state of the characters.

All of the characters have the potential to become hams.  But this cast chooses a quieter, more refined approach.  It creates a more thoughtful atmosphere.  Pistone is the scene-stealer.  His character likes to be smarmy, so he gets the funniest lines.

Night Moths is a conceptual play.  It is an ambitious play –all the moreso for creating a post-apocalyptic world in black-box theater.  It is often abstract.  It takes the risks of letting the visuals and symbolism carry the story.  It is not exactly the feel good play of the summer, but it gives the audience the freedom to make up their mind about it all.

August 25th – 26th 2016 

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Story8
Acting8
Set & Design8.5
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[1] Taken from the OC Centric New Play’s Festival website, http://www.oc-centric.com/#!current-season/c1vxt

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