Review: THE MOORS at Seattle Public Theater

A hilariously dark offering from Seattle Public Theater.

By: Mar. 23, 2024
Review: THE MOORS at Seattle Public Theater
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Review: THE MOORS at Seattle Public Theater
Lisa Viertel, Megan Ahiers, Kiki Abba,
and Hazel Rose Gibson in The Moors
at Seattle Public Theater.
Photo credit: Joe Iano

We’ve had a recent spate of the murderous, dark comedies, Dear Reader.  First there was “Blood Countess” from MAP Theatre and then the 5th Avenue gave us “Something’s Afoot” and is soon to give us “Clue”. And now Seattle Public Theater has joined in with Jen Silverman’s “The Moors”.  And like the others, this one has a tendency to dwell on its own joke a touch too long.  But luckily for us it also has a killer cast (pun intended) to keep us giggling.

It's just another day on the moors as quirky spinsters Agatha and Huldey (Lisa Viertel and Megan Ahiers) deal with their bleak existence.  But today a new governess Emilie (Hazel Rose Gibson) arrives. But what kind of madhouse is she entering?  Agatha rules with an iron fist while Huldey dreamily writes in her diary.  Then there’s the maid Marjory (Kiki Abba), or is it Mallory?  And how about their overly emotional mastiff (Peter Dylan O’Connor) who longs for a friend?  And why has no one seen or heard from the ladies’ brother in months?  Hmmmmmmm.

Silverman’s wacky play is a creepy good time, although it does tend to get lost in itself.  The mid-section of the piece seems to meander a bit too much before getting to the meat of the story.  But even with that slight drawback, director Annie Lareau keeps the pace clipping as well as infusing the show with a delicious anachronistic tone.  It’s a Victorian-ish era but everyone is sporting their best high-top sneakers.  And the portraits on the wall seem obsessed with their iPads and headphones.  Kudos to scenic and props designer Robin Macartney, lighting and projections from Ahren Buhmann, sound design from Rob Witmer and some crazy costumes from Jocelyne Fowler for fleshing out this macabre mansion. 

And this glorious ensemble never lets any kind of slight lags in the play tamp down their hilarity.  Gibson is the closest thing to a straight-man this piece has, as she’s the one introduced to the mayhem.  But even she joins in soon enough and quickly adopts a devilish outlook all her own.  Abba remains one of my favorite actresses in town so when she’s in a show, I know it’ll be good.  And she’s no disappointment here as she pulls double and triple duty (kind of) to hysterical effect. 

Review: THE MOORS at Seattle Public Theater
Peter Dylan O'Connor in The Moors
at Seattle Public Theater.
Photo credit: Joe Iano

The sisters are a whole new level of crazy and both Viertel and Ahiers dive in with both feet.  Viertel deliciously takes on the “stern matron with a longing for something more” role.  I adore watching her in anything but especially love when she takes on comedy as her comedic chops rival the great funny ladies like Maya Rudolph or Jane Curtain.  And she always commits full throated to whatever crazy character she’s given.  Similarly, Ahiers makes the absolute most of her overly eager and attention starved role.  And her final … um … moment (I don’t want to give it away) is worth the price of admission. 

And we must discuss the “animals” in the show.  O’Connor takes this ridiculously odd pet to some stunning heights.  As the depressed mastiff with a penchant for soliloquizing, he delivers some gut busting moments.  And equally sidesplitting, Alyssa Keene as the object of the dog’s affection, an injured moorhen (yeah, he’s in love with a bird) manages a fantastic character who was even fun to watch when she wasn’t in the current scene. 

Lagging moments aside (and they are few), this one will have you laughing all the way back to your own spooky mansion.  And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give “The Moors” at Seattle Public Theater a bloody good YAY.  And whatever you do, don’t upset the dog.

“The Moors” performs at Seattle Public Theater through April 14th.  For tickets or information visit them online at www.seattlepublictheater.org.




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