Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Randy Wyatt
The Aquinas College theatre department played Jen Silverman’s recent (2017) black comedy “The Moors” at the Performing Arts Center February 21–24 for its first production of 2019 (and the third of the season).
The play is set in the moors of northern England in a vaguely defined past, where a family of two sisters, their maid and their mastiff is joined by a governess who has been hired to raise a nonexistent child. The four human characters are locked in a struggle for power the entire play, leading to a lethal dénouement. An equally brutal game that lasts just as long plays out in parallel between the dog and a moor-hen that enters the dog’s universe.
The actors were a mix of both fresh faces and familiar faces. The sisters, Agatha and Huldy, were played by senior Lauren Heyboer and newcomer Meridian Pearson respectively. The maid Marjory/Mallory/Margaret—not three different characters, but rather one character with three different manifestations—was played by junior Bryanna Lee. Sophomore Josie Gonzalez was the governess Emilie. Senior Lukas Isenga’s mastiff had distinct, if distant, echoes of his Logician in Rhinoceros from two years ago, and the moor-hen was played by senior Lauren Washburn.
Everything about the production, from the cast to the set and the lighting (see photo above), worked together like a machine to create a unified effect of bleak, brutal desperation that is entirely genuine, yet so unreal that it is disturbingly comic. Agatha calls the moors, as a setting, “savage” and “inhospitable,” and those adjectives exactly describe the play itself, but the audience on Friday night were howling with laughter with Hulda’s song at the play’s demonic closing scene.
The production was plagued by exceptionally bad weather right from its rehearsal days all the way to the very end. The record-tying weather closures shut down the rehearsals. Sophomore Jacquelyn Pytlik, who was the show’s assistant director, said the company made up for the lost rehearsals by having two rehearsals a day later, which was possible because the play is only 90 minutes long. The last show was in the afternoon on Sunday, February 24, right in the middle of the bomb cyclone. But you would not have known about the difficult circumstances from watching the show, which turned out perfect in every dark detail.
AQ Theatre’s season will conclude with “Everybody,” last year’s Pulitzer finalist from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, presented April 11–14 at the PAC.
Yashowanto Ghosh is a senior with a major in English with a writing emphasis and a minor in Japanese. Jasho is also an alumnus of Aquinas (B.A. German ’11, B.A. Communications ’17).