Moonfleet Review

Salisbury Playhouse – until 5 May
Reviewed by Jo Gordon

Based on a novel by J Meade Faulkner written way back in 1898, Moonfleet is the newest musical to come out of the Salisbury Playhouse from a collaboration by Russell Hepplewhite and Gareth Machin. Set in a coastal village named Moonfleet we meet John Trenchard (Ryan Heenan), a 16 year old orphan who resides with his strict Aunt Jane (Rhona McGregor).  Locals tell a tale  that the village is cursed, bestowed upon them after Col. John “Blackbeard” Mohune (Ashley Mercer) stole a diamond from King Charles I and young John believes to find the diamond would break that curse.  Whilst beginning his adventure to find the jewel he discovers a local smuggling ring that runs in and out of the local ale house run by Isabelle Block (Rebecca Lock) who ends up taking John in as her own but after an unfortunate incident involving the death of Magistrate Maskew (Earl Carpenter) they have to leave the village quickly and life becomes very different.

The sight of Dorset based accented, ale swigging, tail coated Pirates always excites me, I hold my hands up to admitting I’ve always thought that I would make an excellent shipmate due to my penchant for rum and loud singing .With mood lighting and smoke the set works well to establish the dark and murky environments of moonlit beaches, damp caves and wooden ships.  A sometimes clunky feeling production that I struggled to follow at times despite knowing the plot.  However if you put that to one side the vocals are fantastic with Earl, Ashley and Rebecca’s background it was a real treat. A great cast with the lead character of John showing that we all have an adventurer in us waiting to be set free!