Direction: James Cain (written by Matthew Loveranes)
BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome (April 23 – May 4)
Ali Foa’i (Atlas) and Heather O’Carroll (Jane) are the stars of this two-hander – and though James Cain’s direction is assured and Matthew Loveranes’ script is a delight it is because of the two actors and the chemistry between them that MoodPorn succeeds at the level it does. This might be fair to say of any play featuring just two characters that equally share the stage and dialogue – but it’s important to mention here. Because MoodPorn is not looking for answers, even though its characters might seem to be. MoodPorn is, as its title winks, a setting up of questions and questioning, a reveal of layers also; MoodPorn is an establishment of love and lust and longing, of grief and grieving – it is a peek behind the curtain of deep human psyche.
And we know this – we’re hooked – from Jane’s opening five-page monologue which is delivered with deft comic timing and all-around brilliance from O’Carroll. In this we’re sold. We have the characters, some of their back-story, the intrigue is all there. It also shows us and tells us – simultaneously – that we’re in the hands of a very good writer.
And Loveranes’ script is so often brilliant.
The way he knows his characters, creating them from inner feelings out, allowing the actors to step in and move them about and in doing so to add further layers.
The obvious comparison is to Neil LaBute, whose work I (most often) love. And though to say too much about the motivations and movements of Atlas and Jane would be to risk plot-spoilers and to hint too far, MoodPorn does, in a LaBute like way, take us into the characters; it’s as if a series of inner-monologues were made dramatic, so keenly does Loveranes know these people and what their loss and love and nostalgia stands for.
It’s hard not to be blown away by MoodPorn as it moves purposefully towards its rather confronting conclusion.
To all involved – the set and lighting, direction, writing and actors – a most generous bouquet. I left thinking that I not only wanted to see this again I wanted to see this exact team working together again on a new project. Very impressive.