Review: To the Moon…and back…and back at the Etcetera Theatre, London

Monday 20th August 2018 at the Etcetera Theatre, Camden.


After a string of trying dates in the modern techno-centric dating cycle, Rachel Salisbury asked friends on Facebook for a throwback to old school set-ups with decent single men in their modern techno-version of Rolodexes. The post went viral and Salisbury learned a brutal lesson about ownership of your cyber self in a world where click bait article writers trawl social media feeds for their next viral swipe. To the Moon…and back…and back is the one woman show born of this experience. Written and performed by Salisbury and Directed by Danäe Cambrook, the show sees Rachel share her experiences across relationships and eras in her life; six years old, sixteen and twenties – the Facebook post, the loves, losses and loneliness. It’s a very, very funny and relatable show as well as being a surprisingly raw and personal show – this is Salisbury’s ode to the ups and downs of relationships in a world of apps and temporary connections.

Salisbury has great comic talent – her moments of incredulity often bring to mind Miranda Hart’s haphazard character in terms of both voice and expressions – when will the chaos and disastrous dates become something real and meaningful? I mean HONESTLY! The energy and the pace are well-sustained and Salisbury’s transitions between addressing us directly with her narration and sitting down to relive another date (with us representing the invisible date) are precise and perfectly accompanied by simple lighting shifts. It’s a very well structured piece and this is reflected in the carefully crafted writing – Salisbury knows how to write for laughs big and small – she manipulates the pregnant pauses for full effect and she knows exactly when to throw in those comic turns of phrase.585EB375-A6A7-4535-BA14-34E56A9B1CDBWhile this show is hilarious in its depictions of weird men found online and met in pubs for a tortuous few hours of painfully uneven speaking ratios, Salisbury is sure to portray the darker, more emotional strains of the disappointing cycle of unfruitful attempts to find real connection. The abrupt departures from the comedy for poetic narration in which Salisbury wears her heart on her sleeve and treats us as her journal initially jar with the very casual, very authentic everyday language used to portray the dates and the attached commentaries. That said, the shifts between realist and lyrical slowly begin to blend more neatly and I was able to identify the source of the jarring: the melancholic music underscoring the lamentations is, I think, an attempt to manipulate emotions, but within the confines of a show like this, it’s an incongruous throwback to 1940s weepies – scrapping the music would make those moments all the more impactful I think.

To the Moon…and back…and back is primarily a hilarious take on modern dating delivered by someone with a great stage presence. It’s also more than that; it’s an honest, brutal social commentary and an insight into the heartache behind the hilarity – the private moments after the front door is closed on another disappointing venture into the sea of all those fish everyone drones on about. It’s relatable, entertaining and very well written – catch it if you can.

To the Moon and back and back plays at the Etcetera Theatre as part of Camden Fringe until August 22nd 2018 and you can find tickets here.

Cover Image Credit: Rosie Jo

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