Last Thursday, I set off to see Sleeping Dog Theatre’s (in association with the National Arts Centre English Theatre) Blood on the Moon at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre (GCTC). Written by Pierre Brault, this show was selected as a last-minute replacement for You Fancy Yourself by Maja Ardal cancelled due to Ardal’s severe illness. Blood on the Moon features Brault as the ghost of James Patrick Whelan, an Irish immigrant who was found guilty of assassinating D’arcy McGee, retelling the story of his trial. Those who are familiar with Brault’s work will not be surprised that this is a one man show with Brault playing all the characters. Brault has built his reputation with these kinds of performances and once again does an admirable job juggling all the roles.
I am always pleased when local writers make an effort to tell Ottawa’s stories and Brault has done a nice job of telling Whelan’s story in Blood on the Moon. I particularly enjoyed the way he weaves in modern local references that Ottawa residents will relate to along with the historical facts of the trial.
Martin Conboy’s lighting design is also quite effective. The various scenes in the play from jail cell, to courthouse, and finally the gallows are all depicted through the use of clever lighting techniques.
Blood on the Moon is a local story skillfully told. It’s a show definitely worth seeing.
It’s important to remember that this show started 13 years ago as an Ottawa Fringe Festival show before touring Canada and Ireland extensively.
This is not surprising, in fact, with so few opportunities to catch independent theatre on main stages, the theatre festivals have become the breeding grounds for the best of independent theatre in the country.
On that note, I’m very pleased that the GCTC is once again offering the Undercurrents festival in February. It’s a perfect opportunity to check out more independent Canadian theatre. Perhaps, some of the shows featured here will move on to main stages or, like Blood on the Moon, tour internationally.
For more information on show times and ticket prices for Blood on the Moon click here