BWW Review: THE MOORS Darkly Delightful Gothic Twist
Jen Silverman's black comedy THE MOORS is an interesting concoction; a black comedy about love, desperation and visibility. Set in the thick of the English literary landscape, Silverman spoofs the Bronte sisters with a bit of a queer twist. She uses all the expected elements of the Gothic (diaries, governesses, hidden lust) yet employs them for a different set of romantic fantasies, where boys are more on the outskirts of the action. Two sisters, Agatha (Catherine Grady) and Huldey (Jess Hughes) and their Mastiff (David Yakubik) live out their lives on the English moors, dreaming of a life different from their current existence. When a hapless governess, Emilie (Katie Kohler) and a moor-hen (Lindsay Hearn Brustein) arrive on the scene, it sets all three on a strange and dangerous path.
The cast here is terrific. Catherine Grady is wonderfully stern and terrifying as Agatha. Katie Kohler is a wonderfully lost Emilie, the governess without a child to govern. Crystal Bird Caviel is a delight as Marjory, the maid whose name changes depending on the room she is in or the task she is engaged in. However, the standout performance goes to Jess Hughes as the rather unstable sister Huldey. Hughes makes the most of the material she is given ending in a riotously funny unhinged concert moment. Hard to describe, has to be seen. Rounding out the cast are solid performances from David Yakubik and Lindsay Hearn Brustein as the moor-hen.
Silverman's script invokes the mystery of the world of the Brontes, but the play keeps folding in on itself. It starts with an air of the mystical and then runs the spear of a joke through it. Whenever it seems to be about to become silly or heartwarming, the blanket of cruelty gets tossed over the proceedings. And then there is the magical realism of talking animals who talk about flying away, which mirrors the inner desires of the main characters.
Director Ken Webster has perfectly enhanced Silverman's approach with juxtaposition and has drawn great performances out of his cast. Mark Pickell's set design provides just the essence of stuffy Victorian sitting room, but is blank enough of a slate that the genre can be undercut with the modern and the bizarre. Nothing anachronistically "modern" comes as a surprise in this stark space. Cheryl Painter's costumes and Donn Day's lighting perfectly compliment the production.
In all, THE MOORS is not your average evening of Gothic theatre; however, it is wonderfully twisted and a great evening of hearty belly laughs that make it a good way to forget the week's troubles.
THE MOORS by Jen Silverman
Running Time: 100 minutes, no intermission
THE MOORS produced by Hyde Park Theatre (511 W. 43rd St., 78751).
Thursdays-Saturdays, July 06 - August 05, 201, 8 PM.
Thursdays are Pay What You Can Nights at the door. For the first four weeks (July 6 - 29), Friday tickets are $22 and Saturday tickets are $24. For the final weekend (August 3 - 5), Friday tickets are $24 and Saturday tickets are $26. Tickets are $2 off for students, seniors, military, and Austin Creative Alliance members) Purchase tickets online or call 512-479-PLAY (7529) for reservations.