Midsumma Presents Moonlite

Bitten By Productions tells real-life story of Australian bushranger, Captain Moonlite

By Owen James

The sounds of Smith Street, Collingwood filter below the pavement into the basement of the Grace Darling Hotel. A more fitting location could not be found to tell the real-life story of Australian bushranger and gun-slinger, Captain Moonlite. Surrounded by stained walls of broken stone and dripping pipes, and accompanied by four authentic bluegrass musicians, we are told a story long forgotten by history.

Photographs: Sean Carney

The toe-tapping, original music by Dan Nixon is sometimes moving, sometimes frantic, but always filled with fun and passion. It’s beautifully composed and always perfectly suited to the mood of each scene. There is perhaps even more room for Nixon’s compositions in this dialogue-heavy show.

The script by Gabriel Bergmoser takes us smoothly from location to location, present day to the past via flashbacks, and openly explores the characters’ motivations and emotions without ever locking into one definite version of history. This is for the best, allowing the audience to create their own preferred version of Captain Moonlite and his comrades and foes in their minds.

The cast of versatile performers is led by Tim Constantine as Captain Moonlite himself, who explores the intimidating, menacing and bank-robbing public personality, as well as the man who hid underneath the rough exterior. Constantine is the man for the part, his cackling laugh and booming voice fitting the Australian outlaw stereotype we expect, while also making the role his own.

James Coley as Rogan and Daniel Cosgrove as Faulkner both play characters with powerful personalities, who are given a chance to shine in superbly executed monologues. Ryan Smedley as love interest, Nesbit has a beautiful voice that glides over Dan Nixon’s higher melodies and harmonies with ease.

Completing the cast of seven are Megan Scolyer-Gray as the mischievous Werneke, Saxon Gray as Claude and Katy Nethercote as the doting Helen. The cast as a whole carry their material with power, conviction and presence, drawing us into the past while simultaneously reminding us of issues still prevalent today. It really is a perfect contribution to Midsumma Festival.

Original Australian musicals are rare: when one comes along, it’s a must-see and Moonlite is no exception. This production will make you laugh, think, consider our history, and therefore our future.

Dates: 17 January – 4 Febuary
Venue: The Grace Darling Hotel, 114 Smith St Collingwood
Times: Wed 7:30pm, Sun 4:00pm
Prices: $25 – $32
Bookings: https://midsumma.org.au/program/moonlt18