Review: The Moors at South Puget Sound Community College

by Alec Clayton 

Jen Silverman’s “The Moors” is a dark comedy about two sisters, a maid, and a dog who live in isolated loneliness on the bleak English moors. With the arrival of a governess and a moorhen, all their lives take strange and dangerous turns. There is desperation and seduction, a murder plot (the less said about that the better) and laughs galore.

Left to right: Mike Gregory, Paige Doyle, Katelyn May

“The Moors” is a parody of stories by the Brontë sisters, but much darker than anything the Brontës dreamed up.

Sisters Agatha (Paige Doyle) and Huldey (Meghan Goodman) occupy the manor on the moors, along with Marjory the maid (Anna Holbrook), who goes by different names depending on what room she is in Marjory the scullery maid or Mallory the parlor maid. They have a large dog named Mastiff (Mike Gregory) who lies on the floor in obedient silence.

Agatha rules the house imperiously. Huldey is the quintessential adult preteen, and behaves childishly throughout the show. Marjory/Mallory the maid pretends subservience while being rebellious and underhanded.

Typical of the dynamic between residents of the home, when Mastiff dares to stand on all four feet, Agatha commands, “Down!” and both Mastiff and Huldey immediately lie down cringingly.

Left to right: Paige Doyle, Anna Holbrook, Meghan Goodman, Mike Gregory, Katelyn May

When the women step out of the room, Mastiff stands up and addresses the audience philosophically, expressing his loneliness and existential dread. There is much more to this dog than meets the eye, as becomes evident in a subplot involving a moorhen (Kimberlee Wolfson) who crashes into the house. Mastiff, who realizes he has been lonely and depressed, reaches out to the moorhen for companionship.

Enter Emilie (Katelyn May), having ostensibly been summoned by Agatha and Huldey’s brother Branwell to be governess to a child who is mysteriously absent. As is brother Branwell. The childlike adult Huldey is thrilled to meet this new governess and hopes she will want to read her private diary.

Inevitably Emilie finds out not only that there is no child, and that Branwell is dead, but it was not him who wrote the letters in his name.

Left to right: Anna Holbrook, Mike Gregory, Paige Doyle, Meghan Goodman

Lauren Love’s direction is masterful. The entire cast is outstanding. Doyle, a consummate professional, owns the role of Agatha. Goodman throws everything she has into the wild and crazy Huldey. She sings and she fights, she’s something to behold. Katelyn May effectively and believably becomes the eager-to-please Emilie. Holbrook is a young actor, still in high school, and clearly someone we will enjoy on stage again in future productions. And both Gregory and Wolfson are breathtakingly hilarious and heartrending as the anthropomorphized animals Mastiff and Moorhen.

The props, costume and construction crew does a terrific job. The costumes fit the period. Mastiff’s non-costume — everyday work clothes and a cap with big ear flaps — make him look like a dog without looking like a dog, the moorhen’s costume looks like a steampunk flying outfit, and Huldey’s various dresses and nightgowns are as wild as her personality.

The play explores themes of love, desperation, and visibility with talk, singing and dancing and fighting (fight director Tom Sanders), and lots of laughs. It is a little short of two hours with no intermission.

“The Moors”

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 20

Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts Main Stage, main entrance to South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia

$15 suggested donation

(360) 753-8586

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