140: Ruby Moon

8 Aug

Matt Cameron’s Ruby Moon is a wicked fairy tale. It’s dark, mad and filled with bizarre characters – all played by the same two actors. At its heart, it’s a story of loss and endurance.

Little Red Riding Hood

Ruby Moon has vanished. She went to visit her grandmother and never arrived at her destination. Now her parents, Ray and Sylvie, are trying to cope with not knowing what happened to her. Cameron doesn’t tell us how long she’s been gone and this isn’t a crime story so there are no solutions, all we know is that a little girl wearing a red dress with white spots skipped off down the road and didn’t come back.

SYLVIE: Tell me what we know, Ray.
RAY: Not tonight, Sylvie.
SYLVIE: It helps when you tell me what we know.
Silence.
RAY: We know she set off to visit her grandma but never arrived.
SYLVIE: We know her butterfly clip was found in the gutter outside Veronica Vale in number five.
RAY: Beside an upturned, melted ice-cream.
SYLVIE: The cracked cone rising up from the bitumen.
RAY: Like the Wicked Witch of the West’s crooked hat.

While Ruby’s parents try to work out what happened to their daughter, strange parcels start arriving at their home. They contain pieces of a dismembered doll – first an arm, then two legs – and the Moons think it might be the doll Ruby arrived home with a week before she disappeared. They decide to question the neighbours again to see if they can find out anything else.

Up to this point the play has been alarming but you put it down to the grief the parents are going through. Once the neighbours get involved it becomes downright weird, made all the more so by the fact that the same actors who play the parents play all the neighbours. There’s a batty old lady who pretends her parrot talks by doing his voice out of the side of her mouth, there’s a clown covered in blood, a torch singing femme fatale, a mad scientist, an obsessive babysitter and an ex-serviceman. Each of them saw Ruby on her own before she disappeared and each one seems crazier than the last.

VERONICA (the Femme Fatale): Truth is, I can’t bear little girls. They don’t know how the world works. I told her as much. How I loathe innocence. The innocent get what they deserve.

SONNY JIM (The ex-serviceman who lives with his mother): I would make him my personal mission. I would hunt him down like a dog. I would cut his genitals off and feed them to him slowly because these people are animals!

DAWN (The babysitter with a suitcase of Ruby dolls): You’ll never know what I’m thinking. I can make myself think stranger thoughts. Keep everyone from knowing what’s inside my head. Have to have my thoughts for myself.

There’s a twist late in the tale, one that makes some sense of the craziness and of why the parents haven’t raced straight to the police. The macabre fairy tale becomes, once more, a story of loss and surviving in the emptiness.

RAY: Remember when we’d bring her home late at night…? After visiting friends…? […] And she’d be all limp and sleepy in the back seat of the car. And I knew she wanted to be carried inside. Tucked tight in her cosy bed. Music-box ballerina doing her pirouette … I imagine them finding her like that. All limp and sleepy. Waiting for me to carry her safely inside.

Ruby Moon is a highly theatrical, dark fairytale of a play. It would be a treat for actors to perform.

Publisher: Currency Press

Cast: 1M, 1F

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