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The Knight of the White Moon review: ‘Mirth, romance, and mediaevalesque larks’

Tactically leaving the Summer VIII’s races early as the women’s Div I race came to an exciting close (up the House), Pimm’s still in hand, I rushed over to Peter’s to catch the performance.  With garden-play season in full bloom, I was excited to see The Knight of the White Moon for the Saturday closing performance. Not being a Peter’s native myself, I did not know what to expect, yet I was pleasantly greeted by an admirable display of mirth, romance, and mediaevalesque larks. 

The Knight of the White Moon chronicles the journey of a young man, as he embarks into the world to make his name as a poet. His yearning for a muse leads him to an oracle, who points him towards a small, nameless town, north of the Sierra Morena mountains, to find his poetic love. The plot was refreshingly unique, as we witnessed the confusions and frustrations of ‘romance’ hilariously enacted through the hubbub of strong characters. Fred Thompson, writer and co-director, has cited his inspirations as Don Quixote, Harold Pinter and Lewis Carroll, which certainly manifested in the distinctive and quirky nature of each storyline throughout the play. 

The traditional staging choice worked perfectly in tandem with the classically romantic setting, which was complemented by the evening’s beautiful weather. With audience members sitting in rows, dotted on the stairs, as well as the occasional curious passer-by, the atmosphere created was truly wholesome. I noted the ‘white moon’ (a paper print out) stuck to a window of the building, which allowed for a subtle and apt signifier of setting. The use of the building behind the stage as backstage area was also an effective measure, allowing for dramatic entrances and exits, especially during the ‘masquerade ball’. 

At the outset, we are led to expect a mere focus on the odyssey of our Quixotesque protagonist towards his end goal of romance, however as the play progresses we are greeted with something altogether more hilarious and eccentric in the form of unexpected affairs, bad husbands and duels. The Mayor’s husband was a particular favourite character of mine, as his initial monologue was an entertaining and convincing display of cruelty, which eventually melted away following his infatuation with a local artiste. Towards the end we saw a ‘dance’ routine between the two lovers: a creative use of physical theatre. Palpable sexual tension was felt through the well-choreographed spectacle as the duo gyrated, gracefully, on stage. Afterwards, we finally met the mayor (an inflatable sex doll). I must commend the utter absurdity and comedic timing from said blow-up toy, it was truly a highlight scene of the play as ‘it’ withstood a one-sided bickering from its husband. 

The costuming was subtle, yet immersive in effect. The billowing shirts, frilly sleeves and eclectic colours were well chosen and added to the whimsy of the production. I especially enjoyed the patchwork jacket donned by the lovesick protagonist (I will be seeking out one for my own wardrobe). 

As my first-time garden play experience, the Peter’s play displayed an amusing array of talent that I appreciated immensely at the end of such a hectic day. Being part of my own college’s garden play acting troop, it was enlightening to see how others tackle the feat of pulling together a production on the cusp of exam season, with minimal budget and a handful of natural chaos. Well done to the cast and crew for their exhibition of lighthearted originality!

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