“This is the god’s honest truth,” swears Loretta (Tara Lynne O’Neill) at the start of Marie Jones’s Fly Me to the Moon, just before the play takes off into a world of loony dark comedy. You want to take Loretta at her word, because she seems like a sweet enough gal—harried and flustered, but hardly malicious. Her friend and fellow Belfast elder-care worker, Francis (Katie Tumelty), mind you, is a tougher cookie. None-too-bright ideas just pop into her head, and when the Sinatra-loving old man they have been attending dies suddenly, she proposes what seems like a harmless scheme to collect the poor codger’s £120 pension before reporting his demise.
What could go wrong? Probably nothing, they think; improbably everything, as it turns out. When the women’s plan goes awry, their every attempt to correct it mires them ever more deeply in a quicksand of seeming culpability in crimes ranging from petty fraud to murder. Best known for her 2001 Broadway hit Stones in His Pockets, Jones has a marvelous ear for working-class Irish dialect and attitudes, and both actors give funny, richly detailed performances. Whether or not you find the contrivances of the play “believable” depends, in part, on how you interpret a framing device in which the women testify about their misadventures. (Jones slyly leaves open the possibility that they really are guilty, and their entire wacky tale has been devised to fit evidence that can’t be plausibly explained.) But Fly Me to the Moon’s dilatory style slows its farcical momentum, especially as the plot grows thicker, and two hours seems too long for this particular yarn. The women get tenser, yet the play goes slack.—Adam Feldman
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