REVIEW: THE MOORS at The Arvada Center

by Edwin Lobach

Crying laughing emoji. I was in tears with a stitch in my gut from laughing so hard, but I do have a dark sense of humor. To be sure, the comedy of Jen Silverman’s The Moors involves gore and risqué affairs, ergo, not for children. It begins when the young governess, Emilie (Regina Fernandez) is summoned to the dreamlike manor of sisters Agatha and Huldey (Emma Messenger, Jessica Robblee), and a house maid (Annnie Barbour), set in the bleak moors of England. I’ll be honest, the plot is slow to build at first, but, to make up for it, the character development really kept my attention.

This play is unique in a certain many ways. My favorite is of the two actors who personify animals, a moor-hen (Emily Van Fleet) and a mastiff (Geoffrey Kent). If you just imagine how a large dog and a small chicken would talk to one another, then you pretty much got the idea. Then the set, which during any scene may be a number of different rooms of the manor or the outdoors, I eventually noticed small changes, as if I were watching someone’s dream and their subconscious didn’t prioritize the intricacies.

I hate being hypercritical of shows that I enjoy, but there was an acoustical lute scene that either the singer was a bit out of key, or a string of the lute might have been the thing out of tune. I had even wondered if it was done on purpose to add a sense of eeriness, though I also heard the folk sat next to me mention something about it (they still stood in ovation at the end).

Back to the positive light, eh? What stood out to me amongst the many shows I’ve seen recently was Brian Mallgrave’s beautiful set design. It was simple, practical, yet gorgeous. The front door of the house was large and quaint, fitting well into the period piece in which The Moors was set. And being such a dynamic play, the lighting (Jon Olson) fixed each scene together flush, making each so vividly different while having to recycle much of the same set.

In all, I would have feared producing this play, but director Anthony Powell and stage manager Miranda Baxter commanded this surreal production seemingly fearlessly while maintaining its ethereal constant.

Go see this otherworldly show, playing now until May 18th at the Black Box Repertory Theatre of the Arvada Center. Find tickets or other information by calling (720)898-7200 or visiting ArvadaCenter.org.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Matt Gale Photography 2019

 

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