The Wellesley College Theater Department’s production of “The Moors” perfectly fits our reality with brilliant moments of surrealist, stifled family drama in a time when isolation in our homes with our families might have made us … just a bit weird. “The Moors” rounds out a season of great queer theater during Spring 2022 at Wellesley, following Upstage’s “Fun Home,” Micah Fong’s ’22 original musical thesis for the department, “Lavender Gold” and Wushu’s sapphic stage rendition of the movie-musical “Mulan.”
“The Moors” is equal parts evil and absolutely delectable. Following the arrival of a sunny governess (Maddie Speagle ’23), employed under questionable terms, the show quickly descends into a fog where time and truth are mangled, much like the wilderness beyond the parlor room where we find our players.
Director Marta Rainer asks viewers to embrace dichotomies as one: our feelings of invincibility and fragility, our need for love and fear of abandonment, and delivers on a production that leaves us wondering about the middle ground and where we stand within it.
The attention to detail in this production, like chilling sound effects (Ingrid Bell ’24) with a perfectly-thematic Kate Bush song as the house lights come up; and the eerie, unbroken poise of Quinn Etoll ’23, draped in gothic apparel by Soren Rose ’22, is apparent to anyone who attends the play. This show has so many tricks up its sleeves, so much so that to tell you much more might spoil your experience.
The arc of brooding youngest sister Hulde is spectacularly portrayed by Erin Ellbogen ’23 and must be understated to maintain suspense, but must not be missed. The fantastical, sensitive interplay between Victor Gao ’22 and Eleanor Harris ’25, in her tremendous Wellesley mainstage debut, will keep you enraptured from the moment they meet. Bursts of comedy by Sophia Pechaty ’22 break through the darkness throughout and contribute to the absurdity of the play’s landscape.
The team behind “The Moors” upheld the mysteries of this show to keep audiences in the dark until showtime, down to the construction of a “Which ‘Moors’ Character Are You?” WeQuiz in lieu of promotional photos. This strategy let Jenn Silverman’s play speak for itself. You will wonder what is going on in this playwright’s brain; you probably will not get answers. Then, you can be like my blockmate and I, who spent a full hour talking about the dynamics of this show after we’d seen it separately. We two are the incredibly proud blockmates of Abby Lienhard ’24, who also makes a stellar stage management debut in this production. Orchestrating the cues in this show is no small feat!
Reader, see this show! Be dazzled by these performances, surrounded by “ahhh”-inducing set and lighting design by Samantha Bevers ’23 and Jay Wiltz ’22, as audiences on Sunday were. Let the angst of this grim tale match yours as we head into finals. This play, I assure you, will give you something else to scream about. “Heartstopper” will be there on Sunday; this is the gay media we need right now. Stream “The Moors” on May 7 at 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Visit the Wellesley College Theater Department website for more details.