By Mitchell Field
When attractive young Emilie (Katherine Rupers), arrives to take a governess position and perhaps find love at a manor house on the foggy Brontean English moors, instead of encountering any children (nor indeed her possible suitor, a Mr. Branwell, who has apparently been writing her increasingly romantic recruitment letters), she finds instead his two odd sisters, the older starched-and-strict Agatha (Brenda Reed) and Huldey (Madison Scarbrough), the younger lonely scattered diary-scribbler.
The sisters are served by a grumpy, typhus-ridden and perhaps pregnant scullery-maid named Margory (Taylor Diffenderfer), mysteriously named Mallory when she acts as the parlor-maid in the house where little is as it appears.
Indeed, during the ponderous first act of The Moors, Jen Silverman’s beautifully crafted, pitch-black absurdist romance, even the home’s rooms take on different names and functions, while Emilie wanders about the house in her own foggy haze, trying to figure out what’s going on and whatever happened to Mr. Branwell, who’s purportedly “unavailable” in the attic. While Agatha has her own reason for wanting Emilie around, her woman-child sister Huldey appears willing to consider murder to get the attention she craves.
…Silverman’s delightfully quirky play about love and loneliness…
There are two other characters in the play, the home’s desolate, browbeaten dog “The Mastiff” (Kevin Bordi) who conducts a love-affair with an injured Moorhen (Nora Summers) although precisely what this charming and heartbreaking story-line has to do with the play’s plot is also murky. But no matter.
The second act of The Moors figuratively burns down the house as all hell breaks loose in director James Pelican’s cleverly-staged production on David Lear’s sumptuous set, featuring Tracy Hinman’s period-perfect costuming.
In Silverman’s delightfully quirky play about love and loneliness, every one of Main Stage West’s perfectly-balanced cast-members turns in a tremendous performance. When was the last time you were brought to tears by a lonely dog’s inner feelings or charmed by a skittish Moorhen with a game leg due to a poor sense of direction?
Reed’s Agnes is as frosty as ice and more brittle, even while talking love. Rupers is sexy yet sweetly naive as Emilie, until she isn’t, while negotiating her future real-estate, Diffenderfer’s Margery/Mallory is deliciously sly and as dry as the dust she sweeps, while Scarborough’s Huldey absolutely kills it with a hilarious yet completely unexpected cabaret-style song.
The New York Times called The Moors — “Truly clever and intelligent, You really ought to see this.” This reviewer agrees completely.
Mitchell Field is a Sr. Contributing Writer for Aisle Seat Review. Based in Marin County, Mr. Field is an actor and voting member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC). Contact: email@example.com
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