Our protagonist, Charlie (Austin Harrison), decides to go on a date with Jess And (Barker) as a way of simultaneously getting over and bumping into his real crush, Betty Clydesdale (Mia Oudes). The two end up being seated at the same table as Betty and her girlfriend, Vicky Adams (Phoebe Caldeiro), while they celebrate their 8th mensiversary. Throughout the show, Betty and Vicky have been defensive about their relationship against Charlie’s advances, but we haven’t really seen a lot of their compatibility. They seem like the classic beauty and jock pairing of an American high school. And here is where it all crumbles as Vicky and Jess And realise they actually have quite good chemistry and both bond over their love of improv – Jess’s love from performance, Vicky’s from sport. This coupling is the first that seems to make sense in the Night of the Silver Moon world. Charlie would love to be back on nearly-bf/gf terms with Betty, but they settle for friends.
Meanwhile, over at another table sit Felipe (Harrison) and Pierre (Teag Mackay), the slug prince, their relationship also unravels quickly. I’m genuinely unsure how much time has passed, and therefore how long they have been together, but I guess queer relationships do tend to fall pretty deep pretty fast. As Pierre struggles to adjust to life as a human, Felipe is still heartbroken over Charlie and doesn’t seem to be getting the emotional intimacy he’s craving from Pierre.
Also, Sherif Flenderson (Barker) shows us her raunchy side as she gets on a little too well with Front of House staff member (Oudes). The two set up a huge telescope and light so Sherif Flenderson can morse code an apology to her Deputy, who’s still flying in outer space with a talking orangutan. I don’t want to give any spoilers away but there is a murder that occurs…
Highlights of episode four are definitely the musical numbers, added in mostly in reflection of the wider Wellington theatre scene as Into the Woods was playing at the time. Special from-home applause given to Barker, for an improv version of Into the Wood’s ‘Agony’, showcasing her incredible vocal talent! And to Mackay, for singing an incredibly catchy song ‘How I Miss Ze Slither’ in a disgustingly stereotypical French accent – bravo! And well done to the writers for crafting so much product placement of Six Barrell Soda, even though they weren’t sponsored by them, but the bar had a promotional cocktail for the show. Thanks Circus Bar!
Onto Episode Five, also performed live at Circus Bar on the 24th of June. We open with the soundscape of buttons being pushed and a phone line ringing… It’s Sherif Flenderson (Barker) calling for help… Who is this mysterious new character we will be introduced to? It’s Detective Sydney (Mackay), a ten-centimetre-tall snail who has more of a Boston/French mix accent than Pierre. Detective Sydney narrates this episode, and somehow has omnipotent ability to know what is going on in a spaceship lightyears away from earth, despite being killed in this episode…
Regardless, Detective Sydney is able to get closer to the truth than Sherif Flenderson has managed to get in the whole season. Largely because he disguises himself as a teenager and goes undercover at the school, finding out there is going to be a party in the woods hosted by Jess And, and the crew decide to go along. The space storyline also gets a bit more fleshed out in this episode, which is a nice thread to pull and I do wonder if we will ever see Deputy again.
Episode Six, performed live at Circus Bar on the 29th of July and directed by Austin Harrison, wraps up loose ends with a relative satisfaction. It’s prom night, on a full moon. By a stroke of luck, Charlie Flenderson (Wright) is going to prom with Betty Clydesdale (Mia Oudes), while Felipe (Benjamin Hooper), Jess And (Anna Barker) and Vicky Adams (Oudes) are trying to snap Charlie Flenderson in wolf-mode as revenge for Slug Prince Pierre’s murder (spoiler, sorry), and Sam Clydesdale (Hooper) has returned only to unfold an evil werewolf scheme in the basement of the school with his head honcho. And Deputy Marshall (Wright) has a bit of an epiphany and finds a home on the moon amongst werewolves.
Again, an excellent ad in the middle of the episode promoting the Squash Co. show Long Ride Home, written by Jack McGee, where MacKay takes the piss out of the real-life Barker (in a loving way that reinforces how tight knit the crew of Squash Co. are).
The plot twist of who is the head werewolf concocting all these grand Moonville plans is a real doozy – it is not any character I have mentioned in these reviews, and would not have been anyone a listener would have guessed, almost as though it wasn’t planned at all… And everything comes to a rather outrageously silly end.
Night of the Silver Moon has an amazing ability to remain infectiously fun whether watching live or listening afterwards on your favourite podcast app. Listening to these last three episodes, I didn’t feel like I lost anything, although FOMO did start to creep in as the audience enthusiastically cheers or I make out a friend’s laugh.
Overall, Night of the Silver Moon started strong with lots of potential. As the series went on, they pulled out more threads but I’m not convinced they wove them together well enough to make a satisfactory finish. That being said, this is the first time the Squash Co. team have made a show quite like this and it has been a thoroughly pleasant ride all the same. By listening to the show on Spotify, the audio quality and design has been strong (Esteban Jaramillo). And it has been enjoyable, tuning into the next installation of a serialised story. I think the team have great potential to do another story like this.
If you want silly Goosebumps/Scooby-Doo vibes this Halloween, you might be interested in their Halloween special on the 28th of October at BATS Theatre.