How many men and women have struggled to find the true love or  maintain it since the birth of capitalism in 17th century? How many of them painfully questioned their lives when they had to sacrifice their love for money and become another victim of surreptitiously violent capitalism?

There wouldn’t be any better time to show American socialist playwright Clifford Odets’ play “Rocket to the Moon” at National Theatre while not only the UK but whole globe was still recovering from “The Greatest  Depression” of 2007  that was greater than the one Odets witnessed in 1929 and got depressed and lonely himself. The play, that had been staged many times since when it was written in 1938,met British audiences on 23rd March at National Theatre, Lyttelton and will be seen by millions more until 21st June.

Belle(Keeley Hawes) and Ben( Joseph Millson ) in the rehearsal of ” Rocket to the Moon”.

The two hours fifteen minutes long  play questions whether love can exist in capitalism ,that takes many humanitarian values including love away  from men and women and creates money oriented individuals and societies.

Successful dentist Ben Starks (Joseph Millson) lives in misery and controlled by his bossy wife Belle Stark (Keeley Hawes) who is a housewife suffering from pain of her tragic past. Belle forces Ben to have another child,as they lost their son three years ago, to be able to control him better especially after very attractive secretary Cleo(Jessica Raine)’s employment  in Ben’s office.

19 years old Cleo, who dreams to be a dancer, wears very heavy make-up and is wiser than she seems. She says to Ben that she comes from very interesting family, her mother is an opera singer, she doesn’t actually need the low paid job like secretary until Ben asks her to tell the truth not a fable. The truth is she is not loved and she is lonely and she is looking for a true love which makes her a big threat to Belle and all the men in the office rivals to each other. Her beauty and thirst for love exposes every character’s, including Belle’s old father Mr Prince (Nicholas Woodeson) , suppressed desire for love.

The driector Angus Jackson and Cleo(Jessica Raine) in the rehearsal of “Rocket to the Moon”.

“When did you look at another woman last?” asks his father in law Mr Prince to Ben. Why don’t you suddenly ride away, on air plane or a boat? Take a rocket to the Moon! Explode!”says and encourages Ben to have an affair with Cleo as a man who sacrificed his acting career for a miserable marriage and was pushed into business by his wife. He is the character who brings humour to the play. He is wise and painfully funny.

Another victim of capitalism is Ben’s very talented dentist friend Phil Cooper (Peter Sullivan) who shares Ben’s office but can’t pay the rent and gets insulted by Belle. Phil is depressed and finds it hard to fit in the society.”Life is a war!” he exclaims and criticizes all the wrong doings of the society in a scene he appears with Ben. However he also secretly fancies Cleo.

Ben’s close friend Frenchy(Sebastian Armesto), who is also a dentist  and has an office in the same building, is scared of marriage and only likes the beginning of love and finds it hard to maintain it. “Man can’t be a banker and lover!” he says to Ben who actually exemplifies it well.

The most tragic character of the play is rich businessman Willy Wax (Tim Steed) who has lost his belief in love long time ago ,who gets rejected by Cleo despite the amount of money he has.

Odets surprises audiences when Mr Prince tells that he is in love with Cleo and he will fight to his last breath to get her even after knowing that Ben loves Cleo,too. The last scene is the confrontation between Ben and Mr Prince for Cleo. After a long debate and pathetic offers for love, Cleo realises that none of the men can give her what she is looking for even though she really loves Ben. She leaves them alone  in their semingly wealthy lives with their crying hearts.

No one can ever  imagine any cast who could perform Odet’s play better than Millson,Hawes,Raine and their team did.“Rocket of the Moon” is directed by Angus Jackson on the stage that is perfectly designed by Anthony Ward.

Audiences will be looking forward to seeing  Odet’s  other plays like “Waiting for Lefty”  as almost all of them have unknowingly become a little bit leftist  after being violated by capitalism for many years .


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