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.
*mark Returns to The Magis Theatre Company
Magis Theatre Company will present a revival of their critically acclaimed production of *mark, a solo performance of the Gospel of Mark. Originally produced at La MaMa ETC and directed by Luann Purcell Jennings in 2014, it features original music composed by internationally acclaimed, award-winning composer Elizabeth Swados. Actor George Drance will again perform the role of the storyteller. *mark will be performed at Theatre 315 located at 315 W. 47th St. New York, NY. The show dates are as follows: Wednesdays, April 12 and 19 at 7PM; Thursdays, April 6, 13 and 20 at 7pm; Friday April 7, 14 and 21 at 8PM; Saturday April 8, 15 and 22 at 2PM. Tickets are available at Eventbrite: tinyurl.com/36h7rzdt. The production is directed by Jackie Lucid.
The Gospel of Mark, the oldest of the four gospels, had an early tradition of being performed aloud from start to finish. It was finally written down during Nero’s brutal persecution of the followers of “the Way.” Recited in its entirety to give courage to this community of quiet rebels, their radical compassion put them in danger because their inclusivity threatened the Empire’s status quo. Today it is rare for an audience to hear this gospel performed in its totality, or to experience it with the immediacy of that dangerous period of oppression. In his contemporary solo performance, Drance, reclaims the urgency of the words as when they were first spoken. He examines the message of commitment and love through the eyes of a street artist, using drawings to illustrate and illuminate the text.
Magis Theatre Company, founded in 2003, is an ensemble of actors and teaching artists who came together out of desire: desire to teach, desire to train, and desire to act. The company has produced a variety of actor driven, physically based theatre productions that explore the human condition. Recent productions include: Thornton Wilder’s The Alcestiad performed at FDR Four Freedoms Park; Calderon’s Two Dreams, presenting both the 1636 comedia and the 1677 auto sacramental of Life is a Dream; Leslie Lewis’ Miracle in Rwanda, testifying to the transformative power of prayer and forgiveness. Their adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s fantastical spiritual tale The Great Divorce was hailed by the New York Times as “thought provoking… long on theatrical skill and remarkably short on preachiness.”
Actor George Drance, Artist-in-residence at Fordham University, has performed and directed in over twenty countries on five continents. He has served as artistic director of Theatre YETU in Kenya and artistic associate for Teatro la Fragua in Honduras. Drance has been a guest artist and lecturer at Columbia University, Cornell University, Marquette University, Marymount Manhattan College, Hebrew Union College, and Boston College. In March, Drance, who is Ukrainian, will appear at LA Mama in Radio 477!, a new show created by Yara Arts Group and Ukrainian artists about the city of Kharkiv, its jazz history, and how it stood up to Putin today. With texts and lyrics by award-winning Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan, music by Anthony Coleman, it is directed by Virlana Tkacz.
Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways, the late Elizabeth Swados (1951-2016) composed, wrote and directed issue-oriented theatre for over 30 years. Some of her works include the Obie Award winning Trilogy at La Mama, and Alice at the Palace with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Her awards include: Five Tony® nominations, three Obie® Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Grant, the Helen Hayes Award, a Lila Acheson Wallace Grant, PEN, and others.
Visit the Magis Theatre Company online at: https://www.magistheatre.org
Vanities The Musical Is Given Another Mirror
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
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