Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
At the center of the household are Huldey (Jacqueline Reid) and her sister Agatha (Laurie Thomas) who can't stand each other. Agatha is ridged and demanding, constantly putting down Huldey. Huldey is a fanciful, dreamy journal-keeper who talks of her readers, her fans, and we get it that they're just in her head. We also have a housekeeper (Angela Littleton) who is sometimes called Marjory (when she's in a parlor and she's pregnant) and sometimes called Maybell (when she's elsewhere and she has typhus).
The action starts when they receive a new governess, Emilie (Caitlin Aase). Now why would they have a governess when there's only the sick brother, two sisters, and a housekeeper? No children. There's a bit of an answer as the story progresses, but not really much of an answer. And finally, there's the Mastiff (Bruce Holmes) who falls in love with a Moor-Hen (Wendy Scott) out on the moors.
Playwright Silverman has some recent roots at the Fusion. Last year her play The Education of Macoloco was the winner of Fusion's The Seven. Fusion performed the play at the Sam French OOB Festival, awarding Silverman her first publishing/licensing contract. In the few months since, Silverman has had quite a ride, with plays produced across the country, including Yale Repertory Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She also recently landed a two-book contract for a novel and a collection of short stories with Random House. See what a submission to The Seven can get you?
The characters are mostly horrible to each other (when they're not actually hurting each other, they're plotting with another character to hurt someone) and it's delightful to watch. Everyone is gloomyit's the moors after allbut the script is funny. Sometimes the characters get what they want, and sometimes they don't, but it doesn't matter. Nothing good is going to come from their dreary world. Gloom is elevated to the high level of gothic, in an almost tongue-in-cheek sort of way. That's not to say the play isn't strong stuff. It is. But it's not tragic; it's just gothic. Andspoiler alertthere may be blood.
The gloomiest of all is the Mastiff. He's in a serious depression. The humans find him annoying, so he takes his despair out to the moors where he finds relief in the company of a Moor-Hen. He falls head-over-paws in spite of the differences in their species. Those differences are profound and can't quite be overcome by high gothic adoration.
Robb Anthony Sisneros has done a fine job directing. The pacing is terrific. The set by Richard K. Hoglewhich is sometimes a parlor, sometimes a bedroom, without any changes in furniture (part of the joke)is simple and sweet. The director's finest touch is the casting. Every actor is just terrific, every scene a pleasure. We get the Fusion core of Reid, Thomas, and Holmes all working in top form. Can't say enough about these three: versatile, complex, funny, absolutely solid.
Added to that core are some excellent Fusion regulars, Littleton, Scott, and Aase. As Marjory, Littleton is both comic and powerful. Aase as Emile shows a side I hadn't seen before. Each time I've seen her on the Fusion stage she seems a completely different personan odd but very effective acting ability. I hadn't seen Scott in earlier Fusion productions, but she's wonderful as the Moor-Hen, a role that's hard to describe but quite lovely.
My pet favorite in this play (pun intended) is the story of the Mastiff and the Moor-Hen. If anything captures the dark and tragically beautiful world of gothic moodiness, it's the dialog between the Mastiff and the Moor-Hen, enhanced by the chemistry between Homes and Scott.
The Moors, through March 23, 2018, at the Cell Theatre, 700 1st. St. NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances on Thursdays are at 7 pm, on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Saturday afternoons at 2 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm. On Saturday, March 24 at 7:00, there will be a pay-what-you-wish performance at the Kimo Theatre. For all other performances, adults are $40. Seniors are $37.50. Those under 30 pay your age at any performance. For reservations, go to fusionnm.org or call 505-766-9412. For tickets for the Kimo performance, visit KiMotickets.com.