Edinburgh Fringe 2012
For three years the body of American Robert James Moore lay undisturbed on an island in St James’ Park just 100 yards from Buckingham Palace. How, despite being in one of the most visited parts of a world capital, had he come to such a lonely end? As both writer and star, Mike McShane portrays Moore in the months leading up to his death. Mon Droit is a soulful chronicle of a lost soul wandering towards the source of his obsession – HM The Queen.
The play is in three parts. Firstly we see Moore trying to manage his life and medication in America, before breaking with his job and therapist. He re-emerges in London, having never travelled abroad before. He bobs along working out of his hotel, maxing out his credit cards, has seedy encounters with homeless art school dropouts and dominatrixes, all the time preparing for the meeting that will bring him into HER presence. Moore is finally submerged by his own daylight fantasy. This is one of those tales, the outcome is known from the start, where what matters it is not the arriving but rather the journey. McShane’s downward progress in Moore’s skin is perfumed, peppered and made poignant by his interactions with a host of characters brilliantly played by Suki Webster.
McShane has a lengthy pedigree on stage and on both the big and little screens. For me he will always be Friar Tuck, the good natured boozer who overcame all odds and stole every scene he could from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He was also a much loved presence in the golden age of the improv panel show Who’s Line Is It Any Way? If the latter has had any impact it seems to have sharpened McShane’s ability to read his audience. Mon Droit isn’t just pacey – it uncannily takes in every breath with the audience – to the point where we are so absorbed into Moore’s world that we are left wondering if what we are seeing is on stage or in our heads. Few shows I have seen this Fringe are so totally engrossing as well as fascinating and not just because Webster looks a treat in leather (her costume changes are worth the admission price alone). Where other Who’s Line regulars became masters of overstatement, McShane is an onstage God of Small Things.
McShane and Webster have a load of heavy lifting. Though expertly packed, the script is full to bursting and we could wish that a less burdensome set of props had been available. A heavy wooden construction is at times a desk, park bench or hotel bed. This required a deal of maneuvering whilst not adding a great deal of value. This is a simply constructed piece of drama that would benefit from a less ostentatious framing.
Mon Droit is why we love the Fringe. McShane is instantly recognisable to millions around the world and yet is to be found in a pretty small venue performing to an audience who are here to appreciate his drama not gorp at a celeb. He and Webster are an excellently balanced duo bring Moore’s story to life.