Matt Cameron’s play Ruby Moon is an engaging and episodic play that employs Australian cultural issues as well as character issues and concerns. These techniques are used effectively through the freedom of practitioners in staging and characterisation. Ruby Moon combines the elements of absurdism, gothic horror, and fairy tales with the paranoia of suburban myths as well as drawing upon from real-life headlines about missing children.
The Australian psyche has a long held fascination with the stories of lost children. The ‘lost child’ narrative is instilled with a sense of loss interwoven by the possibility of returning home. Typically, the Australian ‘lost child’ story involves an innocent child who becomes disoriented and frightened, and learns a lesson about the limits to their survival skills. In many cases, some never return leaving us to contemplate the worst. Matt Cameron explores this using grotesque fairy tale motifs as well as drawing from real-life newspaper headlines.
In Scene 8 we are introduced to the character Dawn. This scene explores the complexity of the baby-sitter as a character. Dawn is an opposite character relating to Ray and Sylvie, just as they have lost their daughter, Dawn has lost her parents. This meeting between Ray and Dawn also provides the audience with another side to Ruby that was not previously known- “Real mean streak.” This idea that Ruby is not as innocent as she seems is continuously forced upon the audience, although Matt Cameron never lets us see Ruby as she truly was. He explores this social construct- of children being innocent- but does not allow the audience to fully comprehend this idea, instead provoking more questions than answering them. Cameron has used this device of giving the audience very small clues and sparse information about Ruby to keep the tension continuous. The play runs without an interval to play on the emotions of the audience and not give us enough time to think over the information we have already received. In my pair, we are exploring the transformation from Sylvie into Dawn in Scene 7 to Scene 8. We have decided to make the scene change the time Sylvie transforms. With the lights dark enough that the audience can still see, Sylvie- transforming into Dawn- will tear apart the set leaving only the table centre stage with Ruby’s music box. We wanted to do this to highlight the trauma inside Sylvie from the loss of her child and the physical reflection of Dawn’s personal issues. We want the music playing from the music box at the end of scene 7 to continue through scene 8, not only to provide atmosphere but also to allow for the continuation of the scene. We have a lot of moments in this scene where Ray acts like a father to Dawn, because we wanted to show that Ray is also troubled by the loss of his child. We tried to achieve this by having Ray play with Dawn’s hair and clean up around the place. We wanted to show the audience how the loss of one child can affect more than just the family. “Your house needs a grief chimney too… We just kept breathing it in, great plumes of black smoke.”
In a ‘Game Play’ workshop our class has done, we addressed the personal issues of Ray and Sylvie’s relationship through the Prologue. We used childlike games in pairs to explore how the relationship has deteriorated into routine and has lost its passion and intensity as a result of the grief and loss. My pair used the card game “Go Fish” to explore Ray’s eagerness to rekindle the relationship. We added the repetition of “two” (asking for cards) to show how Ray was trying to draw Sylvie out of her depression, and Sylvie’s lack of response to his efforts. The use of silence added to...