Yellow Moon: The Ballad of Leila and Lee

more bravado than balls, more instinct than intelligence

Feature by Dylan Matthew | 08 Oct 2007
This is a raw, energetic, visceral and dynamic work from the pen of the prolific David Greig. Billed as a reworking of movie classic Bonnie & Clyde, Yellow Moon: The Ballad of Leila and Lee feels like a classic cinematic tale combining elements romantic thriller, mythic quest and road movie. But the play also has a convincing grasp of the Scottish language and way of life in its vivid depiction of two teenage tearaways' lives, as the titular Leila and Lee grapple with bubbling hormones, youthful naiveté and the ability to react to everything with emotionally naked passion.

Leila is a 'good girl' whose reticence to speak lends her the nickname 'silent Leila'. One night she becomes entangled in Lee's world - a macho show off who fantasises about being 'the only pimp in Inverkeithing' and running a posse of local 'hos' to emulate his absent father's gangster past. He's more bravado than balls, more instinct than intelligence and its his semi-accidental murder of an acquaintance right under Leila's nose that thrusts their wayward spirits together after Lee's trademark line 'are you comin' or are you comin'?'. This is all it takes to hook the impressionable lass. They flee to the Highlands together, partly to escape the law, partly to find Lee's father and together endure an Odyssean, ritualistic rite of passage.

Although the narrative's trajectory is epic in its ambition, this is theatre stripped to the bone both in production values and its unfussy, matter of fact performance style. Structurally, it's a simple four hander described through twenty separate interlinking vignettes. Beth Marshall and Keith Macpherson are excellent as dotty celebrity Holly Malone and Lee's doomed alcoholic father Frank. Andrew Scott Ramsay is effortlessly charismatic and engaging as tortured soul Lee and Nalini Chetty shines as Leila, perfectly conveying an open-hearted yet shy teenager suddenly shaken by the primal forces within and around Lee. It does flag a tad in the final scenes where recognisable thematic devices border on cliché but this is a minor quibble for the whole is an engrossing journey written and performed with passion, wit and pathos.
Run ended