2014 Edmonton Fringe Review: Ages of the Moon

Can two men sitting around drinking bourbon be interesting? That's the question posed by Ages of the Moon, a play by famed playwright Sam Sheppard and performed by David Wolkowski and Bill Roberts, both of whom were seen at the Fringe last year in the disappointingly rambling Apocalypse Saskatchewan.

This year, of course, they had a bit of a better scriptmaster to helm them: Ages of the Moon kicks off at a rustic cabin out in the middle of nowhere: Ames (Wolkowski) has moved out there in his twilight years in response to his wife finally snapping when he cheats on her one time too many with a girl 1/3rd of his age. Byron (Roberts) has come out to have a visit, and maybe a gloat, and maybe just maybe put an old friend on the ropes into his place. There's a lot of talking in this one, a little rambling, and a broken ceiling fan.

Ames and Bryon talk about the infidelity, and Ames' marriage and the history of him and his wife. Is Byron really part of the history, or is he just as Ames claims trying to "insert" himself into the other's life? It's never fully revealed which is true, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't the trigger point for the ultimate confrontations the two men have later in the play. I know it's probably a conscious choice not to, this is Sam Sheppard after all, but it would have been nice for the audience to have a clue which man was being unreasonable. After all, if we want to see old men arguing about things in the past nobody can verify, we already have family reunions.

The play starts out fairly entertaining, and gets its legs back at the end, though the middle act does drag on a bit. The actors are competent enough with their lines, but only Wolkowski seems to "get" his character: Byron ends up seeming like a tacked on addition for Ames to play against, not an actual person in his own right. At least Byron didn't used to be a mayor, I'd have probably had to walk out of the theatre. Once the actors leave the porch and start moving around the stage/world, the play fortunately gets its energy back just when it seemed poised to start robbing it from us. The confrontation between the two men threatens to turn deadly against their wishes, and suddenly their friendship is if not rekindled, and least set towards the right path as they stay awake/alive long enough to witness a lunar eclipse.

Final word: One good performance and some quality material to work with makes this play worth seeing, though not particularly entertaining.

(for more reviews of the 2014 Edmonton Fringe, click here)