Scottish playwright David Grieg’s “Yellow Moon” is about many things, but more than anything else, it’s about the way we tell stories.
The characters don’t have all that much dialogue—not the usual sort, anyway. Instead of talking to each other in conversations, they spend more time narrating and explaining and talking about each other. And it’s delightful to watch the four actors in Writers’ Theatre’s cozy bookstore space tossing lines back and forth. Director Stuart Carden’s absorbing production feels like a tag-team story time.
Other writers and theaters (including Evanston’s Piven Theatre) have taken similar approaches, but this fast-moving and spirited staging of “Yellow Moon” offers a fresh way of pulling audiences into a story.
Grieg’s tale is partly inspired by the old American blues song “Stagger Lee,” which is about a one man killing another in an argument over a hat. Knowing that folklore isn’t necessary to enjoy this story set in Scotland, however. Hats and homicide are just the jumping-off point for a drama that fluidly moves from humor and adolescent romance to psychological exploration and a classic quest for a father figure. It all builds to a thrilling finale that feels like big-screen action cinema.
The four talented actors—Josh Salt, Karen Janes Woditsch, John Lister and Ashleigh LaThrop—somehow manage to make all of that happen with just four simple chairs for props. Now, that’s magic.