Hyde Park Theatre's The Moors

This production of Jen Silverman's play is an engaging cocktail of Gothic mystery, modern absurdity, and stunning surprises

Catherine Grady (l) and Jess (Photo and treatment by Ray Oyler)

To My Lover of Art,

Good evening. I trust you are well, Dear Theatre Patron. Please forgive the Victorian nature of my communications, but I have recently attended a production of note, and I wish to speak at length on it.

The performance in question was none other than The Moors, a nasty little fable set in a most puritanical time and in a quite bleak and dreary corner of the world. The work was exquisitely penned by Jen Silverman and featured an assembly of extremely adroit actors under the tutelage of Hyde Park Theatre Artistic Director Ken Webster, who has shown a great talent for direction.

The play centers around two ladies of property and distinction, their servants, a governess from London, a dog, and a bird.

Unfortunately, that is all I feel comfortable telling you outright, Dear Theatre Patron. Please do not think me idle in the task of Theatrical Criticisms. I realize it is customary to recount the plot of a play whilst reviewing it. However, part of what makes The Moors so engaging is its bevy of twists and turns, and I take no pleasure in spoiling them, as I trust you will take great delight in discovering them. So, in the interest of preserving the mystery, intrigue, and surprises, I propose the following solution: Please allow me to describe Hyde Park's latest offering as if it were a drink recipe – a cocktail of the macabre, if you will.

In a brackish glass, pour in three to five shots of whiskey to calm the nerves. Then, slowly, and with great tension, mix in six parts unhappiness, one part extra-bitter bitters, the liqueur of a small and sour fruit, a heavy dose of harsh criticism, one part unassuming innocence, a smidgen of typhus, one page from a not-so-private diary, another page from a passionate love letter, a splash of ambition, a twist of cruelty, a fair amount of codependency, a little decaying flesh, some thin gruel, a small kiss, some hair of the dog, and a drop of blood (either human or animal will suffice).

Shake well to an impromptu rock ballad, sprinkle with absurdity, stir with an instrument heavy enough to give a good bludgeoning, and garnish with a moor-hen feather wrapped in your finest piece of lace. Make sure the Janus-faced maid serves it on a sliver tray with an unmortared brick.

And there you have it. It is a draught best sipped slowly over the course of 95 minutes with no respite, coupled with an illustrious set design courtesy of Mark Pickell and truly splendid costumes provided by Cheryl Painter. I must say the evening was quite unforgettable, and the elements of this story will stick to the essence of your very soul long after the curtain has dropped.

I trust you will attend The Moors posthaste, Dear Theatre Patron. For 25 years, Hyde Park Theatre has consistently produced theatre that is thought-provoking, edgy, and of highest quality. The Moors is no exception. I trust it will give you equal parts good humor and savage nightmares. Sweet dreams.

Ever Your Reviewer, TLM

The Moors

Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd, 512/479-7529
Through Aug. 5
Running time: 1 hr., 35 min.

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Hyde Park Theatre, Ken Webster, Mark Pickell, Cheryl Painter, Jen Silverman

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