by Blaine Payer ’18
Some may consider theater to be one of the most amazing artistic outlets in the world. Once the house lights go down, the audience is whisked away and spends the next couple of hours in different worlds and different times, all without ever leaving their seats.
This past weekend, actors at Providence College transported audiences in the Angell Blackfriars Theater to the British moorlands of the 19th Century in Jen Silverman’s The Moors.
The slightly avant-garde dark comedy was full of surprises, from murder to multiple personalities and even a depressed talking dog. It was Into the Woods meets David Lynch and Samuel Beckett in all of the best ways, brought to life by a new modern coat of paint and a cast of PC’s finest that left the audience speechless.
The show follows the bizarre lives of two sisters, Agatha (Mireya Lopez ’19) and Huldey (Brittany Price ’18) who have just hired Emilie (Gabriella Sanchez ’18) to be the governess of a young child. As soon as Emile arrives, however, she starts to think that she has bitten off more than she can chew and perhaps is not cut out for the mysterious world of the moors.
There was also a talking mastiff (Thomas Edwards ’20) who falls dangerously in love with an injured moorhen (Deirdre Lahiff ’20), but that story never intersects with the main plot. No synopsis can do this beautifully complex plot the justice it deserves.
Director Mary Farrell did not play it safe and wanted the audience to know that as soon as they walked in. The packed theater had two flanks of seats roped off and was full of furniture covered by white cloths, an unusual sight that immediately begged a slew of questions.
The house speech, which was delivered in character by Marjory the Maid (Grace Dolan ’20), offered no answers for the furniture, but instead served as proof to the audience that this was going to be no normal production. In the director’s note, Farrell said, “In choosing to do The Moors as the last play I direct as a faculty member at Providence College, I wanted to provide my women students with an experience that was challenging, timely, and fun.”
The tale of sexual politics, love, and murder certainly checked all the boxes, especially due to its sophisticated and mature themes. It pushed envelopes that many are wary to even address, and did so with poise and grace.
There are many aspects of the play to highlight, from the perfectly-timed dark comedy as Marjory to the spontaneous outbursts of song and meta-philosophical soliloquies of the mastiff (who can communicate only with other animals). Perhaps the finest moment of the play came in its denouement, during which the lovably dim-witted Huldey snaps in response to Agatha’s harsh judgments of the writing in her diary, which she cherishes more than anything in the world.
The resulting drawn-out act of sororicide was accompanied by a chilling music cue and a masterfully executed change in lighting, during which the stage was slowly enveloped in a deep, blood red. The following moments saw Huldey burst into song, with Price’s killer vocals being projected through a microphone that had descended from the ceiling. It was a splash of ice-cold water in the already shocked and confused faces of the audience, but brilliant nonetheless.
The Moors was an impressive coup de grace for Farrell, who has certainly left a lasting impression on PC’s theater department. Bravo to the cast and crew, who time and again uphold the exceptional reputation that the Department of Theater, Dance, and Film has worked hard to achieve.