Under Three Moons: A Spotlight on Male Communication
Two men; three nights; one moon. Daniel Kanaber’s new play is at once an in-depth conversation and a presentation of the unspoken. At the show’s heart, the titular moon shines a spotlight on the very human - rather, very male - struggle to communicate.
Under Three Moons takes place over three decades, as two boys become friends and then become men. Darren Kuppan and Kyle Rowe share a small wooden platform that physically demands their closeness. The minimalistic set design leaves us no choice but to focus entirely on the two men on stage - and so it should be. Kanaber’s script is effortlessly human and the strength of this production lies in its sheer familiarity.
Beginning the play as school kids, the pair’s inhibitions are instantly diluted. Kyle Rowe, as Mikey, balances flippant humour with innate sensitivity. As an aptly spirited, fidgeting teenager, he instantly wins over the audience by showing little fear of his vulnerability. In contrast, Darren Kuppan is purposefully stand-offish and awkward as Paul. Notably, as we watch Mikey physically transition into Michael, Paul’s character seems barely to age. Though he is drawn in and out of intimacy by his companion, Paul’s uptight, distant manner pervades. Yet Kanaber’s writing inspires palpable and lasting chemistry between the pair.
As the unchanging set portends, Under Three Moons has little by way of narrative progression. In conversation, the pair uncover subtleties of their backstories; they talk about anything and everything… except how they really feel. Each scene shares a narrative arc, from conflict to closeness, which certainly imbues the production with a sense of symmetry. Yet the play’s only forward motion comes in the form of two rather dissonant scene change sequences: a nod to a movie montage, reimagined in abstract spinning movements. Our immersion in the male bonding ritual is interrupted by these moments.
If written for two women, a story so universal would inevitably risk falling into the realms of cliché. We would look on at “Girl Talk” that would curl the toes of any proponent of the Bechdel test. Instead, we are presented with a modern-day Blood Brothers. Here, they redress the class divide quickly, but these two boys can’t so easily overcome the complexity of battles with mental health.
Kuppan and Rowe share some lovely moments of intimate interaction. They also bring some real moments of roaring laughter. Using humour as a mechanism to navigate complicated emotions, the actors deftly combine the script’s comedic bluntness with a poetic acknowledgment of what is left unsaid.
As a candid exploration of human interaction, Under Three Moons is left without a resolution. In flouting a conclusion, one can only hope that this authentic and understated production feeds into a real-world conversation and opens a dialogue. The only possible cure for gendered stigmatisation is an open, free-flowing and honest dialogue - which this production strives to kickstart.
Under Three Moons premiered at The Lowry, Salford and now takes this story on tour until 2nd November. For dates, venues and to buy tickets, visit the Box of Tricks website.