Due to a limited schedule during the Edinburgh Fringe, I have taken the time to watch this filmed version of By the Light of the Moon at home. I am extremely pleased that I did, Shea Donovan delivers a powerful performance from inside a lunatic asylum.
In 1928 lunatic asylums were the only place people with any form of learning disability or a range of mental illnesses were locked away when their families could no longer cope with their behaviour or they became a danger to themselves.
Alone, confused, innocent and desperate to be back in what she recalls as the “security” of her family we hear the story from the perspective of Lila a patient being held in Oxford Lunatic Asylum.
The harrowing story in which she begins appears to be described through the eyes of a naive young child, who only wants to see the good in the adults surrounding her. Sadly, all of them at some point have let her down and now she is facing an uncertain future alone and scared.
Donovan’s empathetic delivery highlights the innocent and naive position, which Lila sees the worom when she describes the sexual assault she was subjected to which lead to an unplanned pregnancy.
We only get any sense of the time she has been locked away when her cellmate dies and is replaced by Joan. Lila doesn’t know what to say to her and decides to ask her “what year it is” the reply of 1948 shocks and enrages Lila and she turns nasty.
After a lifetime of abuse, confusion and being neglected I wanted a happy ever after conclusion. This wasn’t going to be the case, from archived records we understand that many were left to see out their days screaming to be heard.
For more information on By the Light of the Moon please use the links below. Sadly the Edinburgh Fringe run is now over.