How Do I Get to Salvation Street?



On THREE PLAYS by Jonathan Moore (Aurora Metro Press)


With his customary mix of street and soul
Jonathan Moore makes word opera; the fruit
Of his current tree, these bright branches
Sprout their own aria

Through tone of voice and intent
As characters move from Ireland
To this island, larks ascending
So that even the murk in south London

Suddenly becomes starrier.
Dreamers roam here and rage
As God vouchsafes vibe and violence.
And the poetry of pride singed by fire

Whether on the street, or in hearts
Makes these London boys Byrons each,
Or else intemperate Shelleys
Questioning unsafe stanzas

That have seen them rhyme rage with art.
The three plays span 20 years.
Gregory Hersov’s introduction informs,
Reminding us that Moore in the 80s

Was part of a new theatre wave
Post Poliakoff, Brenton, Hare and before them
Pinter, Osborne, Bond and Griffith’s;
From Punk’s forge, beside Berkoff

Each light and line scored a stave
Through a song of revolt as Rory and Liam
Both chorus conscience and Father Michael
Through wisdom’s staccato song

Spouts truth’s verse. Liam wants to leave
A life warped by the city’s snare on all workers
While Julia treats him to quell with love
Fate’s harsh curse. He sees anarchy scored

On a tree. An almost biblical image
And suddenly broken cities become burning bush.
As Rory and Liam transform into urban Dantes,
With Father Michael as Virgil using the right hand

Of God for hope’s push. This Other Eden connects
Said God’s ground to Croydon. Hannah’s monologues
On phone, or in spotlight slide the tarmac
Of the Second World War straight to Dublin

And the recent grace and grave of her Da.
Moore’s words weave a bridge between
Bathos and Bridie while Dave near Bolsovers
As he buses the city streets without car.

We make the Eden’s we seek or settle for those
Which lay barren. In this second play roots are ripened
As Moore’s Irish ancestry has full sway. The short scenes
Make stage film, but have a tenancy that’s poetic.

Moore makes mosaics from life and light in each play.
As Treatment’s lads now give way to the inner needs
Of the lady who seeks her own identity in a garden
That God has not tidied since that first shard of Apple

And splinter of rib spiked the soil. And so this characters
Plan and plough the empty plots on pale pavements
And Hannah’s progress, free of the rake seeks truth’s oil.
Who are we and why? Moore’s Irish roots house

And haunt him. And so it proves here with Hannah
In this Critic’s Choice piece. Love is toil.
From the 157 Bus to the 233 and possibly the 666,
Dave rides as a spiritual cowboy. Apocalyptic in aspect

As he journeys through City scapes, while he and Hannah
Bemoan their parents’ privations as working class
Irish mothers fall prey and subject to English wife tyrants
And a hidden duty to the ungrasped need to escape.

Here, Moore’s compassion bleeds through as his tough talk
Touches poems. His sensibility shifting a decade on
From outrage, to defiance and poise as he grants
His day ghosts fresh dimension and his own Irish Eden

Sees each angel break Man’s ribcage. Fall from Light
Stretches stage from estate to auditorium and arena

As a rejected composer becomes his own Orpheus
And an underworld opens up as Girlie and his gang

Dare the devil and the opera Moore now works in
Shows how wronged instinct tortures us, as the gold
We would give is carelessly taken by others,
And where maestro becomes music

As a Gesamtkunstwerk fuses all. Art is Moore’s aim
with Copeland, or Einaudi. With Turnage, or Henze
Together the heavens are breached for need’s call.
Each play takes the soul on a Friedkin like

London car chase. As well as traffic lights; Angels
Seen as each page tries to teach, not only a new
Way to be, but also a song for what’s sacred.
These plays blister Bibles and burn a flower black.

They impeach. As well as implore. They are hymns,
Hard and holy. But always beneath them, as is still
The case today Moore makes peace with the still
Raging heart and the search for enlightenment also.

This trinity of plays ghosts and gathers all sons
And all seekers. They are in our dreams, doubts,
And daughters. The salvations and sinning.
And new worlds to see and read. Hard to beat.




                                                                David Erdos 1/5/24




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One Response to How Do I Get to Salvation Street?

    1. Beautifully written about the work of a true artist.

      Comment by Richard Morrison on 13 May, 2024 at 9:05 am

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