The Moors at Hope Theatre
The Moors, written by Jen Silverman, is a Gothic thriller, inspired by the letters of Charlotte Brontë. It follows the story of a governess hired to look after a child, but no such child presents itself. What follows is an absurd look into the themes of loneliness, love, power and discontent. Hope Theatre’s resident director, Phil Bartlett presents this version of the show. It is a tawdry, queer tale, masked as Gothic writing, and does not go far enough to explore the themes it so painfully wants to make apparent.
The most engaging characters in the show are the Moor-Hen, played by Matilda Childs, and the Mastiff, played by Peter Hadfield. Their dynamic to-and-fro on-stage is appealing and fun, whilst also pointing to more in-depth themes of existential crisis – albeit from a dog and a bird. It is interesting to see Tamara Fairbairn take on the role of the Maid; she never misses the mark and is a delight to watch. One would never guess that this is her theatrical debut, as she embodies the character of Mallory/Marjory with such ease.
The show is set in the round to immerse the audience fully into its narrative. This is an exciting way to experience it, as everything happens within one’s grasp and it almost feels like sitting at a dinner party, witnessing a family’s secrets unravel. Visitors cannot help but look.
Where The Moors falls short is in its over-complication of what could otherwise be a very simple story. It begins with the narrative of a governess, jumps to a dog having an existential crisis, throws back to a sibling rivalry, and suddenly slaps you in the face with a nearly dead brother who needs to impregnate the governess. It is difficult to follow, thwarting its aim of being hair-raising, but the brash use of jump-scare music forces the audience into believing they should be frightened. In reality, this is at best a tepid romance masked as a Gothic thriller.
Photo: Steve Gregson
The Moors is at Hope Theatre from 11th October until 5th November 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.