by Shirley Lorraine
The Moors – Delightful, Daring, Deceitful and Dramatic
The Elite Theatre Company in Channel Islands has a treat in store for audiences. Now on the South Stage through March 25, the Elite presents The Moors, a quirky period piece filled with surprises. Written by Jen Silverman (The Roommate and others), The Moors delivers a theatrical experience unlike any other recently seen.
The staging is a comedy, a drama, a thriller, a farce, a satire and a SNL long-form skit all rolled into one and tied with a big red bow. Set in “the bleak moors…of England?” somewhere in the mid 1840’s, the plot echoes the works of Bronte, Dickens and the classic board game Clue as seemingly endless layers of plotline are revealed.
Sisters Agatha (Brook Masters) and Huldey (Kim Pendergast) live in a very old mansion in an isolated location. Agatha is stern and sinister, while Huldey is flighty, clueless and existing in a world of her own making. They are assisted by a parlor maid and a scullery maid, both played with droll delight by Rosie Gordon by merely the change of a hat and a name. The fun is amplified by the fact that her character is fully aware that she fills both roles in the household and plays into it thoroughly. The characters flux and wane in their relationships as they all attempt to maintain some sanity while clearly only hanging on by rapidly fraying threads.
A new governess, Emilie (Erin Hollander) is engaged to serve a non-existent child through what turns out to be a carefully planned ruse. She enters the picture with confusion as to the real reason she has been summoned, later gaining control somewhat to her advantage.
The sisters have a dog, a large mastiff, played to the hilt by Scott Blanchard (in what must surely be his most unusual role yet) who displays a soul-searching character in a deep and poetic manner. He falls in love with a moorhen (gloriously played by Anna Maria Strickland) although their relationship is doomed from the start by the very nature of it. Both are a delight to watch as they dance around their mutual attraction.
The costuming by Sheryl Jo Bedal, who also is credited with set design, is simply marvelous. Myriad details accent the game all the players are engaged in. Direction by Kathleen Bosworth shows depth as each character has many facets, all of them fascinating. What fun she and the actors must have had exploring presentation possibilities.
Laughter is frequent as each actor takes their character to the limits and beyond. Each maintains total control of their absurdities and teases the audience with them. All the actors are outstanding. This production offers an unexpectedly light-hearted look at the intricacies of deceit, desire and loneliness. I thoroughly enjoyed the word play, the commitment and the uniqueness of this staging.
www.theElite.org 805-483-5118 Reservations recommended. Masks optional.