By Emilee Hatfield
What is it about strange, hauntingly dark and twisting tales that are so alluring to us? Perhaps it is the bleakness of their settings, the deranged or unhinged behavior of its characters and their desires that sends them into a more desperate state of mind. Whatever this pull maybe, its strength is resinating within the bleak settings of the Arvada Center’s production of, The Moors which opened yesterday on a snowy Friday evening.
Set in the deep country side of the Yorkshire Moors, the story follows sisters, Agatha (Emma Messenger) and Huldey, (Jessica Robblee), who await the arrival of their new governess, Emilie, (Regina Fernandez).
What ensues is nothing shy of a modern Penny Dreadful that leaves you laughing till the ends shuttering halt. Director Anthony Powell brings his wit and clever view for the third play in the Black Box season, creating a dark comedy that weaves a tale of twisting shock and gothic horror.
From the moment you step into the enthralling set designed by Brian Mallgrave, your sense of disbelief is already being suspended as high as the antique chandler that hangs above. As the lights to the chandler dim, the manor on the moors comes alive. We see Agatha and her sister waiting patiently; the maid (Annie Barbour) cleans quickly in preps for the governesses arrival. Emma Messenger’s performance as Agatha is spine tingling. Her presence on stage draws you in as any lead character should. But there is truly something whenever she and Regina Fernandez, are on stage.
While the set begins to stretch your disbelief in what is and what isn’t. These two women push it even further from the moment the show begins. Their characters playing off one another so well, switching the roles of meek, to demanding, to meek again in a way that leaves you a bit breathless and all the more terrified.
With this being said the entire cast is so vividly engulfed in their character’s personality and tales that as an audience member your suspension of disbelief is all but dust in the wind. Forgetting that you are watching actors on stage. You even forget that two of these actors, Geoffrey Kent and Emily Van Fleet, are incredibly playing a mastiff and a moor-hen.
This is what is so powerful about this dark cleverly written show. Both its character and story will leave you on the edge of your seat forgetting that it is pouring buckets of snow outside of the theatre.
The Moors takes you by the collar and beats you over the head quite literally with non-stop, shock, laughter, and downright disbelief that you won’t see it coming.
The Moors is playing in Repertory at the Arvada Center through May 18th, for tickets visit https://arvadacenter.org/the-moors or call the box office at 720-898-7200