LIVE: “Moonchildren” @ Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge [Berkshire on Stage]
It seems impossible that eight college students living together could be desperately lonely and unfulfilled. Yet in 1965-66 when the play Moonchildren is set, Michael Weller chooses such a group of nerdy and naive students to populate the rundown communal student apartment in his first successful play. It’s a familiar if unconventional group. They discuss esoteric ideas, eat each others food, make love, and protest war together. Moonchildren is the first play written that put the spotlight on a major change in America as it comes to grips with the conflict in Vietnam.
It is also the first play that Karen Allen has directed for the Berkshire Theatre Festival, though her second time directing Moonchildren, having previously put a young cast at Bard College through its paces.
The time of the play is interesting, taking place just as the first peace rallies (opposing the Vietnam war) were beginning to happen. Draft cards (and bras) are yet to be burned, the first huge rally on the Boston Common is several years away, and the music has not yet been shaken and stirred with acid. Professor Timothy Leary had been dismissed from Harvard in 1963 and it would be a few more years before LSD would become the drug of choice for many flower children.