Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Theater Review: The Moors -- Yale Repertory

Birgit Huppuch, Kelly McAndrew, Hannah Cabell, Miriam Silverman, and Jeff Biehl in The Moors. Photo © Joan Marcus, 2016.
The Moors
By Jen Silverman
Directed by Jackson Gay
Yale Repertory
Through Feb. 20

By Lauren Yarger

What's It All About?
Well, think Gothica meets Jane Eyre. In this world premiere from playwright Jen Silverman and directed by Jackson Gay (Elevada and These Paper Bullets! at Yale), this is the tale of two spinster sisters, a maid, a governess and a dog on the lonely, foggy Moors. It has a tongue-in-cheek dark humor to it that appeals to my sense of humor. Let me give you the character descriptions as written in the script, and maybe you'll catch a bit of the flavor:

  • Agatha  (Kelly McAndrew) -- Elder spinster sister. Spidery. Dangerous. Cold. 
  • Huldey  (Birgit Huppuch) -- Younger spinster sister. She has a diary. She wants to be famous.
  • Emilie (Miriam Silverman) -- The governess. A romantic with a sweet face. 
  • Marjory (Hannah Cabell) --  The scullery maid. Down-trodden. Strategic. 
  • The Mastiff (Jeff Biehl) -- The dog. He looks fierce and brutal but is a sad philosopher-king. 
  • A Moor-Hen (Jessica Love) --  A small chicken. Practical but easily frightened. 

This odd crew interacts while mysterious happenings, like a walled-up brother and murder plots unfold while the family mastiff waxes poetic and speaks philosophically with a chicken. Seriously fun. Deliciously brilliant. Agatha's horrible lullaby to her despised sister is one of the funniest things I have seen in a while.

What Are the Highlights?
The script is funny without going too far over the edge. It's not a parody as much as an appreciative nod to the genre while making some rather smart comments on humanity, companionship and loneliness.

Alexander Woodward's oppressive, creepy brooding green with animal heads and antlers surrounded by family portraits is perfection. Sound Designer Daniel Kruger's original music, Fabian Fidel Aguilar's costumes and Andrew F. Griffin's lighting design all contribute moor (sorry, couldn't resist).

What Are the Lowlights?
This might not be for everyone, like those who don't have a dark sense of humor.

More information:
The Moors received a 2015 Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.
Tickets are $20–$98:; 203-432-1234; Box Office, 1120 Chapel St., New Haven. Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)
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