Over the windswept brutal terrain at The Duke on 42nd Street comes Jen Silverman’s The Moors, a weirdly satirical take on the Bronte sisters. Here lesbianism rules, as does a violent mindset. Isolated in the 19th-century deranged homestead are the cruel and forbidding Agatha (Linda Powell), her sister, Huldeygard (Birgit Huppuch) who longs to have her diary read and their scullery maid, Marjory or Mallory (Hannah Cabell), depending on what room you are in. One of them is pregnant and the other has typhus. Last but not least is the family dog, Mastiff (Andrew Garman). Enter Emilie (Chasten Harmon), a newly arrived governess who has fallen in love with Branwell the master of the house through a series of poetic correspondences. Branwell is missing as is her charge. Turns out the writer of the letters is Agatha, who has cruelly in prisoned her brother and was seeking a something more for herself. In the meantime the dog has fallen in love with a Moor-Hen (Teresa Avia Lim), his natural supper.
Most of the show is a pun on the Bronte’s novels and lives. If you are not familiar with the complete works of the Bronte’s you may not find this so amusing. I am a huge fan and even that didn’t help me find the macabre humor.
The cast is all well suited, with each adding the appropriate tone. The fabulous Ms. Cabell again excels. Ms. Huppuch is loony, Ms. Powell straight out of a dominatrix horror novel and Mr. Garman and Ms. Lim animalistic. Ms. Harmon just seems lost. The period costumes by Anita Yavich are stark and forbidding. Dane Laffrey’s set, gives us a brooding atmosphere. The direction by Mike Donahue, just draws this whole piece out and in the end it is the audience who is lost on these moors.
This is a smart piece, but needs to be honed and less frenetic.
The Moors: The Playwrights Realm at The Duke on 42nd Street Theater, 229 W. 42nd St.Until March 25th.