WORDS AND MUSIC: CAT STEVENS
PRINCESS THEATRE, MELBOURNE, UNTIL SEPTEMBER.
The hallmark of Cat Steven’s stellar singer/songwriter career was the maturity he displayed in writing about the yin and the yang of family values. While the majority of his peers were talking about love, he was railing about how “from the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen.” These themes provide the foundation for “Moonshadow”, an allegory for his own journey through a disrupted childhood, amazing career, public burnout and personal search for peace via a new lifestyle.
On a faraway planet, the original nourishing light has long gone, the shadows of the moon are lengthening, total blackout is looming, and redemption is needed to find meaning, life and love. We do make it in the end, via a rocky and often convoluted path as the villagers slowly come to realise that their hard-nosed employer and landlord, Mr Matthew, is in cahoots with an evil princess that is greedily stealing all their energy.
At times the production veers toward pantomime and maybe that is not such a bad thing. After all, we are talking family values. The experienced Robert Grubb, as Mr Hojja, and exciting newcomer Blake Bowden, as Patrick the “son” in “Matthew & Son”, are the most enthusiastic and skilled at drawing the audience in. Some of the other performers could perhaps let slip the safety catch and follow suit, particularly early on. But as the hero Stormy (Gareth Keegan), embarks on his journey of salvation, so does the show gain confidence, cohesion and pace. A standout is Sally Bourne as Stormy’s mother singing “Wild World.” At the end, you get a fuzzy feeling of having been transported on an enjoyable albeit somewhat confusing journey, enhanced by astonishing computer-generated scenery, laser wizardry, gorgeous costumes, engaging choreography and, of course, music by a songsmith that entranced an entire generation.
- GRAEME JOHNSTONE.