Salt-Water Moon is a play that both entertains and educates. It’s the story of an interrupted relationship between two teenagers, Jacob Mercer (Kawa Ada) and Mary Snow (Mayko Nguyen) that began in the summer of 1925, and is on the crux of being re-kindled almost a year later. Much has changed for each of them in the intervening months. Righteous indignation has become compromise; fear has transformed into pursuit. Absence has made their perspectives sharper.
The year in which the play is set is critical to the story. It’s close enough in time for the memories of Beaumont Hamel to be raw, and for the consequences of that slaughter to still be felt by fatherless families up and down the coasts of Newfoundland. And 1926 is close enough in time for islanders to recognize that men who were heroes of WWI are being treated with brutal injustice by owners of fishing boats/fleets. The youth have been changed by their parents’ experiences.
In 1994, I saw Salt-Water Moon at Theatre Aquarius. The actors were in costume and the set simulated an outport. This production, by contrast is stripped down. A singer/ narrator (Ania Soul) describes the set which we then imagine, and provides stage direction to which the actors are oblivious. If this sounds bizarre, it’s not. The play immerses the audience in a powerful rhythmic give -and-take of dialogue on starlit night by the sea.
Salt-Water Moon is a satisfying play that is exquisitely performed and directed (Ravi Jain). I loved the regional accent, identified with the shame of poverty, and understood the rage against oppressive labour practices. It’s a play that brings Canadian history to life, much like 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt.
Salt-Water Moon is playing at Toronto’s Panasonic theatre until October 29th. If you need any more encouragement to see this play here’s Kelly Nestruck’s review from 2016
Bonnie Lendrum is the author of Autumn’s Grace, the story of how one family manages the experience of palliative care with hope and humor despite sibling conflicts, generational pulls and career demands. Autumn’s Grace is a powerful commentary on the need for well-organized and well-funded palliative care in private homes and in residential hospices. It’s a gift to people who would like to be prepared as they help fulfill the final wishes of a family member or friend.