The Diversionary invites you to Explore THE MOORS in this Brontë inspired dark comedy playing through December 10th. Turning some of the well-known tropes of this genre on its head, THE MOORS shows women who are flourishing in the wilds of this harsh wilderness, and find that men and marriage are not the solution to all problems. This comedy may be subversive, a touch romantic, and a bit chilling, but that’s what makes it a perfect fit for its Gothic literature foundations.
Fittingly for this setting, the play is set in the 1840’s (ish says the program) on the moors of England. Emilie, played by Whitney Brianna Thomas, is a governess who arrives to the home after a lengthy correspondence with Lord Branwell, is expecting to find him and a young child for her to care for and help educate. Instead she finds two sisters Agatha, played by Kim Strassburger, and Huldey, played by Hannah Logan. Agatha is as severe and controlled as Huldey is as silly and prone fantastic imaginings. Neither sister is in a hurry to explain the absences of Lord Branwell or the child, or explain why their parlor maid, Mallory, is also their scullery maid, Mallory, played by Gerilyn Brault.
They are kept company by their Mastiff, played by John DeCarlo, a sad and lonely dog who finds friendship in a wounded Moor-Hen played by Rachel Esther Tate.
Thomas brings sweetness and a longing for a place to belong to Emilie, which makes her the perfect target for the plans of Strassburger’s precise and powerful Agatha. Logan’s Huldey is very funny with in her delusion and manic mannerisms, right up to and including when she goes full diva. Brault is a delight as the put upon servant(s), and her glee in helping Huldey make her plans to become famous is very entertaining.
DeCarlo plays the Mastiff with sadness, and a sense of loneliness that is tangible. Tate as the Moor Hen is very funny but also concerned as she starts to realize her friendship with the Mastiff may require her to give up some of her freedoms, whether she wants that or not. The Mastiff is the only character that seems to stick to a Bronte ideal;he is a a male character that seems sweet and in need of love, but then is revealed to be concerned with his own problems and sees the solution to his issues through a female who may or may not be in total agreement with that assessment.
For those that are fans of the romantic psychological Brontë novels, you will recognize the twists on Jayne Eyre in the main duo of Agatha and Huldey, as well as a familiar idea of where to store relatives you that you no longer want to deal with, and some ambiguous servant’s comedy the form of in Mallory/Marjory from Withering Heights. For those that haven’t read a Brontë novel since required reading in classes fear not, it doesn’t really matter because the show is still highly entertaining.
Directed by Lisa Berger, the show stays true in tone and characters. It is a one act and though it slows a bit in the middle and could be edited a bit tighter, the play keeps a brisk pace worthy of any windswept moor found in Scotland.
Overall, the play explores and subverts the societal power structure and norms, which is worth examining both in the 1840’s and now.
THE MOORS is playing at the Diversionary Theater through December 10th. For tickets and show times go to www.diversionary.org