Playwrights Realm presents Jen Silverman's dark contemporary comedy riff on the lives and works of certain 19th-century novel-writing sisters. More…
In the bleak and savage moors, there live two sisters. The eldest commands the house, leaving the youngest trapped in her shadow. But when a governess arrives, lies are revealed and loyalties shift...until someone reaches her breaking point. This play examines love, power, and our longing to be seen.
“A surprising and entertaining play...Silverman’s script mines the comic potential in the Victorian novel’s standard motifs…Director Mike Donahue keeps the action moving at a crisp pace…His cast, without exception, rises to the challenge of playing this bizarre drama…’The Moors’ seems at first like a trifle...But as it progresses, it goes deeper. Ultimately, this wildly entertaining play also manages to say something profound about human nature, social change, and, yes, the power of writing." Full Review
"Jen Silverman's laugh-out-loud dark comedy gently spoofs the Brontë sisters while treating us to a humorous (and brutal) take on the instability of gender roles...Silverman and director Mike Donahue have created an atmosphere in 'The Moors' that is at once mysterious, menacing, and savagely funny...Despite a few drowsy moments and an odd fantasy sequence near the end, 'The Moors' delights with its insightful and subversive edginess." Full Review
“It is this unwillingness of the characters to acknowledge the obvious realities before them that lends ‘The Moors’ its special blend of humor and eeriness…Some parts of the play are not as successful…A story line in which the household’s lonely and existential mastiff meets and falls in love with a moor-hen...expresses some central themes a little too directly...The performances across the board highlight the unearthly wilderness of the moors while still drawing laughs from the audience." Full Review
“The production also gets bogged down by the wide extremes and heady themes it tries to achieve, and the frequent impositions of whimsy and camp…Aided by a talented cast, ‘The Moors’ offers a thoughtful subversion of gender roles, presenting the possibilities of power in a way that challenges and entertains, even if it doesn’t always quite coalesce...Silverman’s play is complicated and messy – but shows why it, too, should be seen.” Full Review
"Some will appreciate Silverman's take on depression, loneliness, longing, literary aspiration, and female bonding, not to mention sibling rivalry and murder on the Victorian moors. On the other hand, despite its excellent ensemble—Birgit Huppuch is especially noteworthy—others will, like me, find it an overlong, cerebral exercise lacking in emotional warmth and consistent interest. I'd suggest that less of 'The Moors'—perhaps 20 minutes less—would be a vast improvement." Full Review
"An alternately intriguing and irritating production...Questions tease and tickle throughout 'The Moors,' which as you may have gathered has a high whimsy quotient. But they never acquire much momentum in Mike Donahue’s production...'The Moors' may sometimes feel sloppy, but it’s smart. Watching it is a bit like having a conversation with an ardent and intelligent Brontë devotee, whose passion almost matches that of the pen-wielding sisters who inspired it." Full Review
“If you are not familiar with the complete works of the Brontës 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…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 made less frenetic.” Full Review
"The reviews of the Yale production suggest that another mode of both direction and design might have made a difference. As it stands, The Playwrights Realm's staging of 'The Moors' is a failure that might have been avoided, though the play does not go as far as it ought in trying to be a satire of the 19th century novels as written by the great Victorian women authors." Full Review
"Silverman's genre-bashing stylistic mishmash is indeed clever and intermittently amusing given its flavorful seasoning of feminism, sadism, plus meditations on happiness and nontraditional love...Realizing this is meant to be a satire, Silverman seemed to work overtime to make us laugh a lot. Consequently, while the cast is admirable, ultimately 'The Moors' is too clever by half to be as successful a riff on Gothic literature as it aims to be." Full Review
"Erodes the viewer’s patience for whimsy long before it can effectively make an argument or illuminate anything real...The play keeps undermining itself with falseness on the one hand and weak attempts at humor on the other...You can’t really blame the four actors playing humans for not finding a tone that works, nor even the director, Mike Donahue...The fault is in the conception of the story, which wants to have its camp and eat it too." Full Review
"Jen Silverman's misfire 'The Moors' does, in truth, take aim at an interesting target...But the play keeps sabotaging itself. When it tries to be mystical, its jokiness undoes it; when it tries to be warm and silly, the story's fog of cruelty chills the air. The play's lowest moments are—as is often the case these days—forced injections of magic realism...Despite some truly great actors in the cast, the tonally confused performances move at a crawl." Full Review
“Silverman's flat, uninflected voice provides no pleasure whatsoever. It's rather like listening to a humorless academic analyzing a text…Still, the production has a look and sound that establish an effectively creepy mood…‘The Moors’ offers satire without any real verve or wit; Silverman neither suggests what is alluring about the Gothic romance genre nor does she provide a particularly trenchant critique of it....Her depiction of it lacks affection and fresh insight.” Full Review
See it if you like Victorian or Bronte-esque spins on love, life, and sisterhood that are quirky and oddball and dark
Don't see it if you don't like quirky, bizarre, or oddball humor
See it if Exquisite writing, superb acting, the creation of a mysterious world with great female characters, moving themes, unexpected humour.
Don't see it if You do not enjoy peculiar settings, somewhat dark themes, and strange humour.
See it if You have an interest in plays with a literary connection. You enjoy plays that surprise continually and have unexpected humor. I loved it !
Don't see it if You can't deal with horrific scenes. You have little interest in unusually written dramas in which poetry is used as a portion of the dialog
See it if you enjoy mocking takes on classic fiction, don't take your literature too seriously, and want to laugh, a lot. Birgit Huppoch is a joy.
Don't see it if you prefer classic, serious, deep theater. The play is a bit slow at first as the story builds, but the end is malevolently delicious!
See it if an original idea in theater appeals to you. I can honestly say I've never seen a version of this story before.
Don't see it if you need a more cohesive story. The separate tracks here have nothing to do with each other, but their journeys are interesting nonetheless
See it if you have always wanted to see a Bronte novel adapted by Monty Python, and enjoy plays where you have no idea what's going to happen next.
Don't see it if you have a low tolerance for black humor, talking dogs, fog, and copious stage blood.
See it if you are interested in female dynamics a la Emily Bronte. Not everything worked perfectly in this show, but it was very interesting to see!
Don't see it if You are looking for a safe bet or only have one night to see a show in New York.
See it if you are ready for the unexpected, don't mind a severe twist on Bronte-esque stories, and enjoy new works from bold playwrights taking risks.
Don't see it if you need a more realistic play (this one includes "talking animals" played by the actors) or are expected pure Bronte/Romantic literature.
See it if Silverman's Victorian/Wuthering Heights send-up has many great quirky scenes but fails to come together Good acting by ensemble (esp Cabell)
Don't see it if A whimsical/magic realism subplot fails to charm, slows main action Vague feminist/sexual motifs left undeveloped Yet manages to engross
See it if you want to see a sedate Rocky Horror meets the Brontes meets gothic mystery...you like fierce women or isolation. Very dark. Very funny.
Don't see it if you like linear, clear plots. If you like to be told the answer. Though 1h40m, it dragged in places and is still a little in need of focus.
See it if you're interested in a unique with intriguing characters. You're interested in twisted takes on period pieces.
Don't see it if you are an impatient theatre-goer. A certain amount of generosity is needed to allow this play be what it is.
See it if you are patient with a work-in-progress that has potential unfulfilled, fine acting with a weak script, horror-story narrative.
Don't see it if you expect more refined and polished work from this fine company,
See it if You don't mind bad acting, poor production values, unfortunate direction,and a convulted and slly plot.
Don't see it if You value good acting, excellent production effects, good direction, and an interesting plot.
See it if You enjoy innovative off Broadway you appreciate great writing, you want to see a truly wonderful ensemble cast, you like fun staging
Don't see it if You are looking for something conventional
See it if So much to love on so many levels. Not a single misstep in the writing.Not one less-than- stellar performance.
Don't see it if If you're not willing to walk in with no expectations and just go along with the ride. Smart,funny,impossible to categorize. Just great!
See it if Victorian lesbians and philosophical dogs thrill you! A man on his knees for most of the show and broken conventions excite! Mordant humor.
Don't see it if you want heaving bosoms or explanations or kindness, screw that, this is brutal post-Genet fun & games with hen innards & bloodpacks
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