“Luna Gale”, the current play at the Goodman Theatre is riveting! Written by Rebecca Gilman and Directed by Robert Falls, “Luna Gale” will keep you on the edge of your seat from the beginning, to intermission, to the final word. Even though this play includes several amusing scenes and occasional curse words, it still has a very serious undertone as it dwells on topics like sexual abuse and drug addiction. It questions you’re perception of the foster care system and what happens when one social worker receives a case that involves more than what it seems. The message of “Luna Gale” is centered on hope and the faith that things in the future will be better.
The title of the play comes from the infant girl named Luna Gale, child of teenaged meth addicts Karlie, played by Reyna de Courcy and Peter, played by Colin Sphar. Caroline, played by Mary Beth Fisher, is the social worker that decides to place Luna Gale in the care of Karlie’s mother, Cindy, played by Jordan Barker. A separate plot line branches off of this one, the tale of Lourdes, played by Melissa DuPrey. Just as Luna Gale is entering into the system, Lourdes is “aging out” of the system. Caroline is excited to see Lourdes go off to college and make a good start with her life, but that dream is soon shattered as Lourdes falls prey to drugs and overdoses. Placing Luna Gale with Cindy started off as a good choice, but developing facts show otherwise and a custody battle begins.
The production of this play was top notch. Todd Rosenthal designed an amazing set that rotated as scenes changed. This stage revolution successfully placed a whole building with multiple rooms on the stage. Some of the rooms had harsh, fluorescent lights, that made the offices seem real and official. The costume design was also impressive especially in the first scene with Karlie and Peter. Karlie was wearing a pair of flip flops, pants, and a rumpled top, but it was the flip flops that really stood out. This costume choice clearly showed that Karlie didn’t have the best kind of job or the best resources.
The acting in this play was superb! From the moment the lights come on, you can tell that Peter and Karlie are on some kind of drugs. Karlie is hopping up and down, fidgety, and shoving candy into her mouth. Peter on the other hand is stone cold knocked out in the chair next to her. As the play continues the acting gets better. The roles are reversed when Peter and Karlie next talk to Caroline about Luna Gale, this time Peter is the one more aware of things and Karlie is the one who is out of it and quiet.
Peter and Karlie both seemed to be the lazy, irresponsible parents who didn’t deserve to have Luna even though they obviously cared about her. Cindy was the obvious choice: she was responsible, a nurse, and knew a place where Luna could stay while she worked. But as the play progresses, we see how caring the two parents are, especially Peter, and how unfit Cindy is at being a parent. The cliffhanger at the end of Act I is shocking and reveals the secrets that Caroline, Peter, Karlie, and Cindy were each was so desperately trying to hide.
This play was easily one of the best performed plays I’ve seen this season at the Goodman. Although “Luna Gale” was two hours and fifteen minutes long, it never caused me to lose attention for a second. At the end of the second act, Peter sings a little song to Luna that went something like this: “Luna Luna, you’re my Luna. Luna, Luna you’re my Luna. Luna, Luna, you’re my Luna. Luna, Luna, I love you.” Luna Gale would be alright; she had a father that obviously cared for her and she would not end up like Lourdes. This play is obviously not for children due to some of the language used and the seriousness of the topics, but for adults and older viewers it’s perfect.