Jake Dennis is an internationally published poet, a jazz, swing, and blues crooner, and a freelance journalist. Visit his website: www.poetofjazz.com and follow him on Facebook www.facebook.com/poetofjazz
A moving play about moving on
How will you be remembered after you die? Who will cry?
Those two questions are at the heart of Mikala Westall's powerful writing and directorial debut "Moving On Inc." Part of The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights season, "Moving On Inc." is set at night in the outback where Sam joins his girlfriend Abby on her quest to ritualistically commemorate the tenth anniversary of her father's death.
Played authentically by the talented Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Abby is a strong tough shelled young woman who has taken on her late father's job of deceased estates removalist. Abby's career forces her to obsess over how people are remembered after – to paraphrase Emily Dickinson – the moss reaches our lips and covers our names.
Delicately revealed in Westall's well-crafted script, Abby's affectionate yet strained relationship with her childhood friend Sam and the emotional baggage she carries from her father's death situate her at a crossroads in life. Once introduced, the comic yet disquieting character of Ruth, convincingly played by Nicola Bartlett, elevates the drama's setting to an eerie plane in which the dead who have not moved on interact with the living.
Admirably, despite being a play chiefly concerned with questions about death, Westall's play avoids being grossly morbid. Westall is no Sarah Kane or Sylvia Plath fixated on severed body parts, suicide, or confessional "in-yer-face" writing. Her anxiety - at least in this play - is how the living preserve the memories of those who pass before us. As the play's ghost functions to shows us, only the living have the power to properly mourn, respect, reconsider, forget, and vanquish the dead.
Nearly sold out, this play, which is also a part of Fringe World, deserves high praise for its script and direction, the powerful acting of its female leads, and for sound and lighting designer Joe Lui's tech choices which enhance the play's moments of revelation, terror, and playfulness.