with Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas in 'Moving
Objects', Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
'Moving Objects' won the Award for Best Fringe Play in this year's Edinburgh Festival, and deservedly so.
It opens with a young woman, Therese, visiting a pawn shop run by Joseph Liebowitz, an elderly Jewish man (Gareth Thomas, playing someone about 20 years older than himself). She is pawning objects which are obviously quite special to her -we find out in the next scene, when she meets a friend of hers (Wull) that she needs the money for him to carry out an unspecified task for her. Joseph realises that the objects mean a lot to Therese, and after some agonising, returns them to her house, to her amazement. She tells him a little about what she needs the money for, but no more than we have already discovered.
Wull persuades Therese to re-pawn the items, as the money she has given him is not enough. She finally gives in and goes back to the shop, but Joseph refuses to take the items and tells her to go away and think about it. She reveals that she is in some sort of trouble, and there is a man who will help her get out of it. Wull is angered by not only Joseph's refusal to re-pawn the items, but also that someone else knows something of their plan. He visits Joseph's shop, having secretly taken the items from Therese's house, and demands the money, saying he will return the next day to collect it.
Joseph again returns the items to Therese, who knew nothing of what Wull had done. She is angry and upset, and cannot understand why Joseph wants to help her, revealing a little more of her predicament in the process. He is beginning to persuade her that there are other ways of solving problems than whatever it is she is intending to do. When Wull returns to the shop the next day, Joseph tells him that he has returned the objects to Therese, and inadvertently tells what he knows of Therese's plight. Wull is incensed, and threatens Joseph with a baseball bat before stealing his glasses and retreating out of the shop, saying he will return for the money.
Joseph hurries round to see Therese and tells her what has happened. She reveals that the money is to pay Wull to kill her estranged husband, who will not let her see her daughter unsupervised because of her alcoholism. She realises after some debate with Joseph that this is not the way to solve the problem. Therese used to love to dance as a child, and Joseph persuades her to dance for him. The two of them are asleep on the sofa when Wull bursts in and threatens them. He is angry that Therese has rejected his amorous overtures, and forces her to dance for him. This, however, is his undoing, and he is so moved that he bursts into tears before returning Joseph's glasses without a word and leaving the house, where the play ends.
This was an intense and at times emotionally draining play. Gareth Thomas was wonderful as the old man Joseph Liebowitz - so good that I forgot it was him playing the part at times (and was delighted to be able to tell him so afterwards!). The resolution at the end came a bit too suddenly, I thought - Wull's change of heart caused merely by Therese's dance was somewhat implausible, but that wasn't the fault of the actors! A very enjoyable evening, with the added bonus of being able to chat to Mr Thomas himself both before and afterwards.