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Mooney and his Caravans
15th September 2020 - 19th September 2020
Mooney and his Caravans
by Peter Terson
Mooney’s caravan site is not all it seems. He runs it with an iron hand.
Life isn’t simple with Mooney: he isn’t a man to tangle with. Charley and Mave, a young couple with social pretensions learn his little ways rather too late. When they move into one of his caravans they think they are taking a sensible step towards a rosy future, but that isn’t quite how things work out.
Actors Toby Burchell and Moa Myerson, who began their careers with Malvern Theatres Young Company, return to the Festival Theatre, directed by Nic Lloyd in this thought-provoking drama, by turns both funny and serious.
Peter Terson was born in 1932 in Newcastle upon Tyne but would later develop strong links with the West Midlands, not least Worcestershire, where he taught history before becoming a professional playwright. Terson’s plays have been produced for stage, television and radio and most of his theatre work was first produced at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent in conjunction with director Peter Cheeseman. Mooney and His Caravans was first performed in 1968.
Running time: 80 minutes
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“Toby Burchell and Moa Myerson, who started their careers with Malvern Theatres Young Company, most certainly have returned in triumph with their superb, spirited portrayals…” Worcester News
“Simple, sweet and deliciously delivered…” Bromsgrove Advertiser
“…a great way to kick off live indoor theatre in a Covid-safe environment…” Choice Radio Worcester
A better life - A step up the ladder - we can all have our dreams and Charley and Mave certainly had those but oh what a journey it has become. With not a slip of their superb Brummie accents we were witness to the horror of life on the Caravan site, the domineering and very large Mooney, naked bathing - just too much, smelly toilets and holiday caravans, life was not as they envisaged.
An excellent performance by Toby and Moa and so good of Malvern Theatres to take to big step to reopening with so much at stake. Well done all
This was our first venture back to live performance and we were so pleased we decided to go. Toby Burchell and Moa Myerson transported us to the caravan park where the story is set and engaged us totally from the start, so that we really felt their characters’ awkwardness and insecurity and painful attempts to believe their lives could be better. What an amazing and brave achievement to perform this bitter-sweet play in such a large space to such a relatively small audience without all the normal feedback that an audience can give. They played their parts beautifully and we were in awe of them! Thankyou to everyone who made it possible.
First up great to be back at the festival theatre 🎭 and live theatre in general
Had not heard of the play before or that it had a history going back over 50years ..... the 80mins did not drag at all and were perfectly timed and brought to real life by the 2 actors it really felt like a bigger cast both funny and quite touching in parts you really feel for charlie so wonderfully and thoughtfully bought to life by the actor u feel every high and low with him so difficult in these strange times to be able to get an atmosphere with social distancing and such small numbers I do hope the actors felt the warmth and appreciation from us at the end.. for giving such great performances ... bravo a solid 4 stars from me
Congratulations Malvern Theatres, all of your COVID precautions were executed in a clear and easy to follow way.
Loved ‘Mooney and His Caravans, fantastic performances from Moa and Toby.
It’s been a long time waiting for live theatre, fingers crossed that it continues.
Choice Radio Worcester
After a six month hiatus, things are slowly and very cautiously returning to something vaguely resembling normal. Not completely normal, of course, but it does mean that theatre-goers finally have something to go to, in a socially-distanced, no ice-cream, no bar, no programme type of way.
And it is a strange experience, sitting in the auditorium, mask on and isolated from anyone else. That said, it makes the choice of play and actors even more important for this first outing into live theatre since that fateful announcement back in March which effectively shut down the entire entertainment sector overnight.
The play selected for these first tentative steps is Mooney & His Caravans, a straightforward one-act play starring Toby Burchall and Moa Myerson, both formerly members of the Malvern Theatres Young Company and now professional actors in their own right. Keeping the production totally in house, the show is directed by Nic Lloyd. The play comes from the pen of Geordie writer Peter Terson (local connection: he taught history here before becoming a professional playwright) and was first performed in 1968. The plot and sentiments expressed are, however, timeless and the set is a simple one representing the basic interior of one of the caravans (and not one of the posher ones up the hill belonging to the caravan park's "residents" to which the couple aspire).
The couple are Charley and Mave, newlyweds who have upped sticks from Selly Oak to experience life in the country. Or at least life in a caravan park in a field somewhere close to Stratford on Avon. Whilst the couple may look to the move as a way of achieving better things in life - neither see Mave working in Woolworths as an acceptable job and Charley wants to progress to charge-hand in the factory where he works - events and people inevitably conspire against them. Mooney, who owns the caravan park, is a particularly nasty and manipulative character - never seen but sometimes heard - who, along with Charley's fellow workers and even, from time to time, his wife Mave, begin to make his life a misery. Yet such an eager to please and trusting soul is Charley that it's water off a duck's back. Things come to a head when even Mave, now pregnant, has her own reasons to question how wise the move was...
With no breaks in a show running at around 90 minutes - no interval and just a couple of dimmed lights sequences to show the passing of time - it is crucial that the actors can hold the attention of the audience. More than that, they have to do this in a Brummie accent which is not their native one. Both achieve this believably and seemingly with ease.
A simple two-hander is a great way to kick off live indoor theatre in a Covid-safe environment more so than your local pub or restaurant or supermarket. Indeed, there are a couple more to come: Doctor Faustus next week and, in October, Alan Bennett's Talking Heads with Moa Myerson on stage again in Her Big Chance and Rhys Harris-Clarke in A Chip in the Sugar. Whilst not likely to be sustainable in the long term with such a reduced audience and limited set of actors, it shows a willingness to perform and a means to get repertory theatre going again which is both admirable and a way of repaying the theatre's supporters who have donated to keep the venue going over the last few months.
And if theatre is not your thing, the complex's cinema has been open for socially-distanced film showings for a couple of months already.
John Phillpott - Worcester News
WE’RE back. Yes, and with the big fist of a brilliant production bang in the face of the virus that has blighted Worcestershire’s theatrical life for so long.
Anyone who has ever walked the towpaths of the county’s major waterways and encountered the inhabitants of riverside caravan sites will find this evocative play instantly recognisable.
Writer Peter Terson doesn’t identify the setting, but it is plainly one of the ‘Little Birminghams’ that can be found on the banks of the Severn and Avon rivers.
So. You can take a Brummie out of Brummagem but you can’t take the Brummagem out of a Brummie, in this case the long-suffering Mave and ever-compliant husband Charley.
They have forsaken the factory grime of Selly Oak and departed for a more pastoral paradise where the birds never stop singing and the grass is definitely much greener. Or so they think…
Mave longs to escape the drab certainties of working class life with its noisy factories and rough council estates. She has high hopes for her husband’s career advancement, which she hopes will eventually lift the couple out of the caravan park and place them in the Cotwolds cottage of their dreams.
But they soon find that they’ve swapped one tyranny for another. The caravan park is run by the oafish Mooney and his unsavoury sidekick Dempsey, and they rapidly identify Charley’s willingness to do any job, no matter how menial or disgusting.
Charley’s desperation to escape Selly Oak turns him into a dupe that’s ripe for exploitation by the bullies.
Toby Burchell and Moa Myerson, who started their careers with Malvern Theatres Young Company, most certainly have returned in triumph with their superb, spirited portrayals as the ill-fated couple, desperate for release from servitude, only to find that salvation never comes.
Despite one setback after another, they soldier on as the caravan site turns into a prison camp, a Dante’s inferno of overcrowding, feral children and yobs revving their cars at all hours of the day or night.
You really feel for the couple as the trap of the new servitude snaps shut.
This first major venture by Malvern Theatres since the pandemic changed all our lives should fill us with optimism for the future. Under the steady directorial baton of Malvern Theatres boss Nic Lloyd, there is every reason to believe that this play marks the beginning of a return to normal as we learn to live and cope with the ravages of the coronavirus.
Mooney and his Caravans most surely burns bright as that beacon of hope and is thoroughly recommended. It runs until Saturday (September 19).
Going to the theatre again, it almost felt like that it was back to normal, except that we had to sit far apart and wear masks. But for all that; it was definitely worth it. Mooney and his Caravans is a play that is by turns amusing and poignant. I was really impressed with Moa Myerson and Toby Burchell who played their characters with truthful sincerity. I was completely wrapped up in the characters' story and enjoyed every minute of this first post lock down production. I would urge people to go and see the play, not only to support the theatre, but to enjoy and excellent night's entertainment.
What a fabulous performance! We felt every emotion and enjoyed every minute well done Moa and Toby and thank you to Malvern Theatre for making us feel so safe.