At its best, “theater for young audiences” can rivet grown-ups as well. But Yellow Moon, from Glasgow’s TAG Citizens Theatre, gives the impression of being tailored to a crowd of ADD-stricken teens. In David Greig’s play—which opens this year’s Brits Off Broadway festival—an admirably tireless quartet of actors huff and puff their way through an overstuffed and hyperactive script, playing multiple roles and narrating as they go.
Subtitled The Ballad of Leila and Lee, this tale of two wayward 17-year-olds on the run in the Scottish Highlands aspires to be a mythic journey of self-discovery. She’s the withdrawn, daydreaming, self-mutilating daughter of Muslim immigrants; he’s a violent and oversexed small-town boy with a father complex. The psychological and familial elements of the writing occasionally intrigue and might make for a compelling novel. But onstage it plays as all telling (or screaming) and little showing—despite some awkward pantomime in lieu of props. (Tearing out a human heart is always better left unmimed.)
As story-theater goes, Guy Hollands’s staging in the tiny, in-the-round space is inventive and resourceful. But the incessant-narration mode forced onto the actors by the script gives them little chance to shine as deep characters. (Only the radiant Nalini Chetty as Leila manages to inject more subtle sentiment into the rushed proceedings.) Before long, all the spastic gesticulating and overemphasizing makes you want to plead with the company to slow down and talk to you as an adult.