When reading the play “Ruby Moon” it is easy to pick up on the personal and social tensions between characters. The descriptive nature of the stage directions and the very act of reading as opposed to just seeing on stage, being able to take time to look over each line, means that a reader can see which scenes accentuate the tension between both Ray and Sylvie or the characters they have created. Stage directions in the play plainly describe when a pause on stage is to be tense, or what the vibe is supposed to feel like during a particular scene.
Bringing these tensions onto stage, however, is a more difficult task. An audience in a theatre cannot simply read that a silence is supposed to be tense; it is up to the actors and their use of the stage, as well as the lighting, set and audio. When considering how to highlight the personal and social tensions in Ruby Moon, we must consider what particular tensions play an important role and which characters the tensions are between. It may be that a character’s interactions with their surroundings are tense or that their relationships with other characters are very tense.
To bring them to the stage these social and personal tensions must be identified. Cameron’s “Ruby Moon” explores the tenuous and often shallow relationships of suburbia. In writing “Ruby Moon”, although it is in essence a surreal play, Cameron attempted to draw attention to very real issues, including the nature of suburbia, and how when it comes down to it it’s difficult to know who to trust. Bad things can happen to anyone, and not everyone is as normal as they appear.
Not only this, but underneath the eeriness of this play lies a very real, deeply tragic story of two parents who have lost their child and gone mad to cope with the grief of never knowing what happened to her. So much so that the reject every opportunity to find out for fear of it being bad news, in favour of keeping up the game they play with each other. The tension between them is evident when reading the play- it is clear in the stage directions when moments between them are tense. Audio effects would be highly effective in bringing these themes to life on stage.
As many groups in class presentations demonstrated, Ruby Moon is a play in which the use of audio effects such as voiceovers, music, and sound effects (i. e. rain, wind, barking dogs) is a part of the stage directions, and is utilised and essential to many key moments in the play. Sound effects that play key roles in the audience’s understanding of the play include Ruby’s voice and piano refrain at the beginning, the various occasions on which the phone rings, the sound of voicemail messages being left, and Ruby’s voice throughout.
This almost constant use of sound effects throughout the play gives the director a simple way of drawing attention to dramatic tension, acting as a kind of soundtrack, with, for example, the sound of a phone ringing, accentuating the silence between Ray and Sylvie by suddenly breaking it. Space can be used in a particular way to accentuate tension between characters. In class presentations, many groups expressed that they felt the set should be small and intimate. This means that actors will always be in close proximity with each other.
Characters being in close proximity can accentuate many kinds of tension, for example the scene early on in the play featuring Ray and Dulcie Doily might see Ray standing on one side of the stage trying not to get too close but being physically unable to get further away and being forced into close proximity, creating tension in the sense that he does not want to be in close quarters with a woman he finds extremely unpleasant. The scene featuring Sid and Sylvie may feature Sid alternating between invading Sylvie’s personal space and shying away-Putting Sylvie on edge as it is in close proximity to her.
During the scene featuring Ray and Veronica, a stage where the characters were in close proximity to each other would help create sexual tension. In terms of bringing the social tensions evident in the play onto stage, many groups in the in-class presentations of directorial visions seemed to express that a key theme in Ruby Moon was the relationships between residents of Australian suburbs. It’s a well recognised suburban stereotype- Neighbours are polite and civil towards each other however build silent judgments, while having dark secrets of their own. Costuming could play a vital role in making these social tensions apparent on stage.
As Ray and Sylvie dress up, it was decided by many groups that they should don just a few key costume pieces that they feel sum up their character. Exaggerated, almost (e. g. When Sylvie dresses up as Dulcie Doily she dons a grey wig and an apron- Typical elderly woman garb- a shallow understanding of their neighbours and in fact, other people. ) The various tensions, issues and emotions being presented in Ruby Moon, both of a personal and social nature make it successful as a play because they are real things that real people have to face and that put many people on edge.
Aside from the use of audio, costuming and staging to get these tensions across, it is largely up to actors to make sure the audience can pick up on the vibes of the play, leading up to moments in such a way that the audience can feel tension in the air. When staged in the right way, Ruby Moon is designed to make the audience uncomfortable and tense. There is never a calm moment throughout. There are various techniques that directors can employ to make this so and ensure the success of portraying tensions, both personal and social, on stage in a performance of Ruby Moon.