Theatre / By Orla O'Sullivan
“Fly Me to the Moon” * Written by Marie Jones * Directed by Marie Jones * Starring Tara Lynne O’Neill and Katie Tumelty * 59E59 Theaters, 553 East 59th St., bet. Park and Madison Avenues, NYC * Tickets: (212) 279-4200 or www.59e59.org * Playing through Sept. 30: Tues. – Thurs. at 7:15 p.m.; Fri., 8:15 p.m.; Sat., 2:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.; Sun. at 3:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.
“God, I thought my day was ruined because our Craig forgot his gym bag. Now, I could be arrested for theft, fraud and murder,” says a stunned Loretta (Tara Lynne O’Neill), one of the characters in Marie Jones’s new comedy, midway through a Monday gone badly wrong.
Many characters in “Fly Me to the Moon,” whether the two onstage or others present in their absence, could do with an escape.
Davy, the speechless stroke victim attended by Loretta and her fellow nurse’s aide, Frances (Katie Tumelty), got his. He has just died, unnoticed, on the toilet.
Others, including Loretta’s unemployed husband Brian, are still waiting for deliverance. He spends his days and scant resources phoning television stations in an attempt to get on game shows, such as “‘Pointless,’ where you win if you don’t know the answers.”
As to what to do with Davy when his demise comes to light, Loretta and Frances discuss proper protocol in cases of inconvenient death.
Before they settle on whom to notify, Frances casually observes that by dying on the day his social security is due, “he’s not even getting the good of his pension.”
And so the trouble starts. Frances is as calculating as Loretta is innocent. “Just hear me out,” she says, as she makes her first pitch for how they might cash in on the bad joke the universe played on Davy.
It’s a phrase repeated at several junctures of the play, each marking the characters sinking deeper into a morass.
How will they and the author ever extricate themselves? If there’s a knock on this hilarious play, it’s that as the characters situation spirals out of control, the play becomes more farcical. But, along the way, the audience certainly gets its escape with a good laugh. Loretta and Frances are perfectly opposed as a kind of working-class Belfast Laurel and Hardy. It’s fun to see the penny drop, again and again, on Loretta’s face—and interesting later, when a little role reversal ensues. Now into it, and wondering how to conceal a bruise on Davy’s face that might be seen as suspicious, she’s rummaging through make-up, asking was his complexion “fair” or “peach melba.”
As their consciences grow louder, the women hold a religious service for Davy, there in his flat. Preparing for this impromptu event unearths the greatest surprise yet.
The audience is left back to earth, as the play concludes with the characters uttering their final words from what appears may be the dock: “We promise to tell the truth… so help me God.” Or is it just a reminder that this is a yarn, spun like a spider’s web all the way to the moon?
“Fly Me to the Moon,” is making its New York debut as part of the annual 1st Irish Theater Festival. This follows a hit run in the UK for Belfast native Jones, whose body of work includes Tony-award winning “Stones in His Pockets.”