Regular visitors to Edinburgh Fringe will know that a majority of venues are, for the rest of the year, University lecture halls and seminar rooms. Edinburgh has a huge student population and it is the impact of the proposed building of student accommodation on a local community that has inspired Laila Noble and Emilie Robson’s Moonlight on Leith
The port town of Leith, just North-East of Edinburgh city centre is home to a curious mix of newly imported hipsters and long-time locals, and may soon be home to an even greater number of students. The real-life ‘Save Leith Walk’ campaign, to which Moonlight on Leith draws attention, was established to prevent the destruction of sandstone buildings and a community.
There’s an uplifting soundtrack of party anthems playing as the audience enter the auditorium, it creates a sense of hope before the production has even begun. Moonlight on Leith covers events over one solitary night in Leith, where an entire community is brought to life on stage.
Very cleverly written, the play jumps between a vast array of characters all going about their business on this one night under a “half cut moon”. The cast of five all pick up various roles, while the remainder help to tell their story or interact with them.
From Angie Frangipane to Wild Eyed Willie, and Sandy (a religious prostitute) this is Leith life – warts and all, but it’s not intended to mock the town, but rather paint a portrait of Leith life through a vividly poetic text.
The cast are excellent; Nicola Alexander easily switches from the rough and tumble of Mad Tam the Meat Man to Alexis – vegan only at the weekends. Lucy Deehan and Ania Myszkowska play some of the more interesting characters including Sandy and Flora Potts, and you’re always waiting for them to get another turn.
Andrew Govan-Hill does a fantastic job, particularly in the role of Sergeant Hamm, a police officer with a troubled home-life that bleeds in to his professional duties. Kyle Martin picks up the widest range of characters, from the drunken Willie to an intelligent cat, Martin’s performance seals the deal on this fascinating play.
There’s an occasional folk song added in to the mix which only adds to the enjoyment of the show. Director, Debi Pirie, keeps everything moving at pace and there’s no room for the cast to rest on their laurels, keeping the audience thoroughly captivated.
Moonlight on Leith uses comedy to great effect to highlight an issue that means a lot to a great deal of people, and is an eye-opening theatrical exploration of the feelings of an entire town. This may be a love letter to Leith, but it’s also a play that shines bright at this year’s Fringe.
Moonlight on Leith is at The Space Triplex until 27th August 2021.