HUMOR LURKS ON THE GLOOMY MOORS


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Take one dark and gloomy castle, set it smack on a bleak and desolate moor, add swirls of fog and wisps of smoke, people it with a gaggle of women all in varying stages of unrequited desires and you have a start at capturing Jen Silverman’s world premiere Gothic romantic mystery comedy.

New Haven’s Yale Repertory Theatre will have a whole lot of melodrama pulsing through its veins until Saturday, February 20 as “The Moors” entices you to explore its dangerous depths. Think the Bronte Sisters Meets Lizzy Borden. “The Moors” is definitely deliciously devilish and devilishly delicious, but be careful if any one of the maids Marjory, Mallory or Margaret (all portrayed by a rebellious Hannah Cabell) offers you a cuppa tea.

As with all good Gothic tales, there are unexplained incidents, romances that are not what they seem, hidden passageways, an elusive (possibly deceased) hero (or villain), an abiding sense of danger and females in various pangs of peril. Two unwed sisters, the dominant elder Agatha, captured in the severe, judgmental and exacting aura of Kelly McAndrew, and the flighty and frivolous younger Huldey, portrayed with panache by Birgit Huppuch, are trapped in the family estate. Agatha has a master plan which she is not going to share with the less than mature Huldey who spends her days sighing and writing fiction in her diary, one she hopes will be scandalously read by everyone in the household, or even the world.

The arrival of a governess, the accommodating and eager to please Emilie, a delightful Miriam Silverman, sets Agatha’s plot in motion. Why has she been brought here?┬áIs there a child for her to instruct? Who actually sent her the packet of letters that lured her to leave her current position to venture to the desolate and forbidding land?

Into this bleak household of women romps a giant dog, a mastiff, anthropomorphized by Jeff Biehl into a philosophizing pet who seeks the meaning of happiness. In his quest for answers, he meets and falls in love with a Moor-hen, a feathered and flying Jessica Love, who fears all that ails him is indigestion. Absurd events, that are bizarre and often brutal, punctuate the plot under the skillful manipulation of director Jackson Gay. Alexander Woodward’s intriguing set encompasses both castle and moor in a satisfying split scenery, with suitably Victorian garb created by Fabian Fidel Aguilar.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street (near York), New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m, Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The play is a product of encouragement by the Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre.

Enter the lonely world where sisters and pets seek love and happiness, a nest for security with the adventurous ability to fly free.

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