Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hating Hamlet

I Hate Hamlet -- Playhouse on Park -- Thru March 13

Ezra Barnes and Dan Whelton. All photos by Rich Wagner
It started with Richard Burbage, for whom Shakespeare wrote the role of Hamlet, followed by David Garrick, then Sarah Siddons (the first women to play the role). There’s been Edmund Kean, Edwin Booth, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and John Barrymore – and then, well, you name them (even Mel Gibson). Now you can add Andrew Rally to the list.

Who? You know, the guy who played that sexy doctor on that TV series. Well, he’s come East and, lo and behold, he’s been offered the role of Hamlet for a Shakespeare in the Park production, and he’s terrified. Such is the opening premise of I Hate Hamlet, an often enjoyable piece of theatrical fluff that recently opened at Playhouse on Park. Rally (Dan Whelton) is looking for a place to live, and real estate agent Felicia Dantine (Julia Hochner) has sold him into renting an apartment once owned by none other than John Barrymore (Ezra Barnes). He’s not thrilled – after all, Rally’s from California and likes things modern.

However, that this was once Barrymore’s abode thrills Rally’s 29-year-old virginal girlfriend, Deirdre McDavey (Susan Slotoroff), who’s waiting for the perfect man to come along (perhaps King Arthur). It also delights Rally’s agent, Lillian Troy (Ruth Neaveill), who has romantic ties to the apartment and the now deceased Barrymore. Yet Rally’s decision to play the Prince of Denmark not only frightens him, it stuns his La-La-Land friend Gary Lefkowitz (David Lanson), who has just worked a deal for a new TV series that will give Rally financial security.

Ruth Neaveill and Ezra Barnes
 But wait, Felicia is not only a real estate agent, she’s also a psychic, and as Rally ponders whether he should stay in the apartment and take the role, she decides a séance is in order to see if connection can be made with Barrymore’s ghost (after all, she talks to her long-dead mother on a regular basis). A candle is lit, hands are joined around a table, and “puff,” Barrymore appears. He has been given a charge: to guide the next great actor to play the role of Hamlet and cannot leave until this is accomplished.

The seance: Ruth Neaveill, Julia Hochner, Susan Slotoroff and Dan Whelton
What follows throughout the rest of the first act and for most of the second act is interaction between the TV actor and the great stage actor, who also happened to be a womanizer and an alcoholic. You buy the premise, you (by and large) by the play.

Under the direction of Vince Tyler, this production is something of a rollercoaster, for the cast (at least on opening night), just didn’t seem to be on the same page in terms of what the play is about. Yes, there are the questions: will Rally play Hamlet and will he succeed, and will he finally get to sleep with Felicia? These are secondary to evocation of the characters, for this is a character-driven play. And so, what of the characters as created by the actors?

The good stuff first. Whenever Lanson is on stage he all but steals the show. As the voice of cynical reality, he chides, he kvetches, and he gets to deliver some of the best lines in the play. His Gary is fully realized and multi-faceted, and he knows how to deliver a punch-line.

Dan Whelton, Susan Slotoroff and David Lanson
Then there’s Barnes as Barrymore. Look up “aplomb” in an on-line dictionary and you could easily see a video of his performance. His Barrymore is suave, urbane, world-weary and totally egocentric. Playwright Paul Rudnick gives this character several extended monologues, and Barnes makes the most of them, especially his final words of wisdom to Rally before Hamlet’s opening night. It’s a wonderfully studied performance, mainly because it’s difficult to play a ham without hamming it up, but Barnes succeeds because he’s able to convey total character sincerity without taking himself seriously.

You get the feeling that Lanson and Barnes knew whom they were playing from the get-go, and whatever direction Tyler provided was just icing on the cake.

We then turn to the other characters, and without having been privy to any table-talks or rehearsals, one can only ascribe the lack of success in realization to Tyler’s direction, or perhaps what the playwright has given them to work with. This is most obvious in Slotoroff’s take on the virginal Deirdre. Tyler has directed her, or allowed her, to skip around the stage like a bunny on LSD. Perhaps he was seeking for a visual manifestation of sexual frustration. She enters gushing and basically plays that one note throughout the entire performance. Why Rally clings to this manic package of female repression remains to be seen -- after all, he’s a TV semi-star.

Whelton plays a different note, for he essentially enters shouting and keeps the decibel level high for most of the evening. Thus, as the ghost appears or his fear of tackling the role of Hamlet rises the actor has no place to go. He’s already climbed the mountain. His continued high-decibel consternation is equal to that he initially showed when confronted by the ancient apartment early in the first act.

Staying with the one-note idea, Hochner has been allowed to channel Marisa Tomei (think Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny) in her interpretation of the Big Apple real estate agent. She does it well, but it goes nowhere, and eventually becomes just a tad grating. 

Fortunately, there’s a bit of nuance to Neaveill’s Lillian – her second-act “Ah yes I remember it well” scene with Barnes is quite touching. However, there’s a slight problem with her accent, which seems to shift from British (initially) to German (which it is supposed to be) and then back again.

There’s a lot of movement in this production – if for no other reason than an extended swordfight takes up much of the close of the first act. However, a lot of the blocking seems motivated by an intent to keep things visually balanced, as if Tycer is moving chess pieces about the board: “Okay, when he goes here, you go there,” and many of the crosses (often unmotivated) are made as other actors are delivering lines – audience members’ ears attend to the words but their eyes are inevitably drawn to the motion.

There are many moments when I Hate Hamlet comes alive – mainly when Barnes and Lanson are allowed to do their thing. In fact, Lanson’s first extended scene drew applause upon his exit, as well it should have, for he brought life and energy to the stage. And then there are moments when the production just seems to be going through the motions.

Now in its seventh season, Playhouse on Park has proven over and over again that it can stage engaging, often mesmerizing productions (the recent The Chosen is a case in point). Unfortunately, I Hate Hamlet is not one of them. Often entertaining, this semi-farce comes off as less than the sum of its parts.

I Hate Hamlet runs through March 13. For tickets or more information call 860-523-5900, X10, or go to

Friday, February 26, 2016

Saying a Lot

Having Our Say -- Long Wharf Theatre -- Thru March 13

Brenda Pressley and Olivia Cole
Photo by T. Charles Erickson

You shouldn’t kick a puppy. You shouldn’t steal candy from a baby. So how do you say anything negative about Emily Mann’s Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years? This tour of a century or so of black and American history (which, of course, are intertwined), out of the mouths of two fragile yet feisty women, which recently opened at Long Wharf Theatre under the direction of Jade King Carroll and will soon migrate to Hartford Stage, is both engaging and, ultimately, boring.

Yes, a lot has happened since the Delany sisters -- Sadie (Olivia Cole) and Bessie (Brenda Pressley) -- were born -- the Civil War was just some two decades in the past when they first saw the light of day and the slaves had been freed to live a slightly different life of indenture. What followed was decades of racism in subtle and not so subtle forms: lynchings, Jim Crow laws, separate but equal, the civil rights movement and, well, essentially where we find ourselves today. Yes, it’s the stuff of gripping history, and the Delany sisters lived through it all, and that’s a marvel, but it doesn’t make for great theater.

Okay, so why is it hard to be negative about Having Our Say? Well, from the moment the two sisters appear on stage you like them, you want to listen to them, you want to sit down and have tea with them. Cole and Pressley create two extremely memorable characters – you believe they are sisters and you believe that they have lived the lives they speak about. You truly get the feeling that you have been invited into their home in Mount Vernon and they are gracing you with their memories. All you need is an afghan thrown over your legs and a fire crackling in the fireplace.

You simply can’t ask for better acting than what you will see from Cole and Pressley. There is never a doubt that these two women on the stage have lived together for a century – they complete each other’s lines and share the same mannerisms, yet they are not clones. Cole, as Sadie, is the gentler of the two, more willing to let things slide off her, to not take umbrage when the world offers unkindness, while Pressley, as Bessie, is a fighter, someone who will not allow a slur to pass unnoticed. They acknowledge their differences, gently taunt and tease each other, but there is a binding love that is palpable, and it casts a warm glow over the entire evening.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, warm glows do not a play make. The dramatic arc of the play is the struggle that black people have lived through over the decades, and this is where Having Our Say falls short, for the sisters, as dramatized, were on the periphery of the struggle, a struggle which continues to this day. They were essentially observers to the momentous events. Thus, when we are not dealing with their relationship, which is engaging, we are treated to seminars on black history, accented by visual projections by Alexis Distler, who also designed the set. You can almost sense when the play shifts from intimate relations to didacticism. During these moments, lines delivered, mostly by Pressley, get applause. It’s akin to a politician working the crowd, saying what the people want to hear. It isn’t theater, it isn’t drama, it’s polemics, a stump speech. Do I disagree with these lines, with their meaning? No. But I know when I’m being manipulated, and much of Having Our Say is manipulation.

We care about Sadie and Bessie because Cole and Pressley make us care, that’s great theater, but then our concern for them is used to deliver messages, and valid though these messages may be, when wrapped in the security blanket created by these two women as they prepare their deceased father’s favorite meal, the messages cannot be argued, debated or seriously weighed. What they say must be right (and the applause attests to this). So, what we have is a tender little domestic pastiche wedded to an argumentum ad passions. It’s not that I disagree with anything that was said over the two hours it took for Having Our Say to unfold, I take exception to the manner in which it was presented.

What Having Our Say lacks is inner tension. Playwright Mann, drawing on the book written by the Delanys and Amy Hill Hearth, sticks to the facts as told by the Delany ladies, and they are interesting and sometimes engrossing, but there are no skeletons in the closet, nothing to move towards and reveal, nothing up for grabs between the two characters (you know, the good old rising action and climax). Thus, Having Our Say is often more lecture than drama. We gather together to hear what these ladies have to say about their lives and we listen attentively, and we feel good about ourselves as we leave the theater. We are on the side of the angels. Perhaps it is only later, upon reflection, that we sense something missing at the core of Having Our Say, something that speaks to why we go to the theater. If it is merely to have our beliefs confirmed, then I imagine Having Our Say succeeds for most, but if it is something else, the need to be swept up in a conflict that is (perhaps tragically) resolved, then Having Our Say does not deliver. It is, at the end, what it was at the beginning – two very nice ladies sharing their memories. It’s a visit to Grandma’s house where she offers you cocoa and cookies and reminisces (and never once mentions how much she hated Grandpa, or why). It’s safe, it’s soothing, but it ain’t drama.

Having Our Say runs through March 13. For tickets or more information call 203-787-4282 or go to

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Romeo and Juliet Play in a Sandbox

Romeo and Juliet -- Hartford Stage -- Thru March 20

Kaliswa Brewster and Chris Ghaffari.
All photos by T. Charles Erickson
Actually, it’s not a sandbox, but it looks like one. Centered on Hartford Stage’s thrust stage is a square box, perhaps 20’ x 20’ (didn’t measure it) which is filled with white stones. Hidden beneath the center of the box is a stage lift, which rises to different heights to become a chapel, an altar, a table, a bed and a bier. Upstage, we have a wall of crypts running the full width of the stage, some with candle sconces, some with flower vases attached. That’s about it – no, wait a minute. A segment of the upper wall often lifts up to reveal a sliding platform that will also perform many functions, including that of a balcony. That’s about it – no, sorry, for hidden up in the fly space is a wrought iron fence that will, when it descends (an eye-opening moment), also run the width of the stage. Yes, that’s about it, all of it designed by the play’s director, Darko Tresnjak, with help from associate scenic designer Colin McGurk.

So, why lead off a review of the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet, which recently opened at Hartford Stage, with a description of the scenic design? Well, the set design is one of the stars of this rather impressive production, as is the subtle yet very effective lighting design created by Matthew Richards (who uses footlights at several points to create stirring shadow images).

Kandis Chappell and Kaliswa Brewster
The program notes state that the design was inspired by Italian neorealist cinema. Well, that remains to be seen. Perhaps that was the spark that ignited Tresnjak’s vision for what this production should look like, though I would suggest that there’s more than a touch of magic realism involved and a hint of German Expressionism. Whatever the inspiration, there’s no doubt that Tresnjak’s vision has been realized, and it is outré, impressive, effective and evocative.

Charles Janasz
Kudos must also go to everyone involved in the casting of the show, for the actors are, from first to last, superb. Although there are primary and secondary roles, nobody phones in a performance. First, the leads. As Juliet, Kaliswa Brewster deftly manages to suggest that she is a 14-year-old in the throes of first love. She hops, she twirls, she skips, she flounces her skirt, and when describing her Romeo she can’t get her words out fast enough (but she manages to do so). Her performance is an engaging delight.

Playing against her as Romeo, Chris Ghaffari equally delivers as a smitten, brash youth, a true sophomore (read “wise-fool”) in the study of romance. His performance is athletic and compelling, though he does chew up the scenery (such as it is) a bit in one of his scenes with Friar Laurence (Charles Janasz), but for the most part he is a believable, love-struck swain.

The dance sequence at the Capulet party
Strong work is also done by the supporting cast. Janasz, as the friar, is dead-on in scene after scene – avuncular when necessary, strong-willed when it is called for, his “man-up” scene with Romeo, when the distraught lad wishes to kill himself, is an artful piece of work that drew well-deserved applause.

Equally compelling is Juliet’s Nurse, Kandis Chappell, who gets to show a range of emotions from disdain to maternal concern. However, the stand-out here is Timothy D. Stickney as Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father. I have never seen a stronger, more frightening take on the scene late in the play when Capulet demands that his daughter marry Paris (Julien Seredowych). Tresnjak’s blocking for this scene has Juliet constantly backing away from the force of her father’s verbal assault, as well she should, for Stickney creates a whirlwind of emotions. It is, perhaps, the strongest scene in the entire production.

Chris Ghaffari and Kaliswa Brewster
Careful attention will reveal some very nice touches. The balcony scene, for example, is blocked with aplomb. With the platform extended, Romeo dithers about as to what he should do, until Juliet calls his name – his reaction is priceless (could Cyrano de Bergerac have been lurking in the back of Tresnjak’s mind here?). Romeo will later dangle off the platform, legs swinging back and forth in metronomic fashion. Near the end of the scene, Tresnjak has the young lovers mime being in bed together, though Romeo is perched near the lip of the “sandbox” and Juliet is atop the platform. It’s a lovely moment, as is the dance sequence during the Capulet party where Romeo and Juliet initially meet (there’s just a touch of West Side Story here – could it be that Tresnjak has drawn on all of the play’s iterations?).

Finally, kudos must also go to fight coordinator Steve Rankin. The initial confrontation between the Montague and Capulet households, plus the central fight scene between Tybalt (Jonathan Louis Dent), Mercutio (the energetic, effervescent Wyatt Fenner) and Romeo, and Romeo’s confrontation with Paris in Juliet’s tomb, are all staged with a great deal of visual excitement (with just a touch of Grand Guignol – some audience members sitting in a first row may have become a bit “blood” spattered).

Wyatt Fenner and Jonathan Louis Dent
It’s obvious that Tresnjak had a vision of how he wanted to stage Romeo and Juliet, and that vision by and large succeeds. Though the play is a tragedy, it only becomes tragic well into the evening. Before that, there are elements of humor to be mined, and Tresnjak has allowed his cast to dig for them.

The performance, with one intermission, runs close to three hours, but Tresnjak and his cast and production team take the audience out of time into a world that was created over four centuries ago yet is timeless, "For never was there a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

Romeo and Juliet runs through March 20. For tickets or more information call 860-527-5151 or go to 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

It’s Tough to Write…About Writing

Seminar -- TheatreWorks New Milford -- Thru March 12

Anya Caravella, Chris Luongo, Kevin Sosbe, Reesa Roccapriore
and Jim Dietter. Photo by Richard Pettibone
Anyone who has ever agonized over writing a school essay knows that writing doesn’t come easy, but in Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar, which recently opened at TheatreWorks New Milford under the direction of Alicia Dempster, those who hope to one day pen the Great American Novel face emotional and psychological hurdles and pitfalls that would make the Special Forces’ obstacle training course look like child’s play. This somewhat verbose comedy about wanna-be writers will be an eye-opener for those who believe writing is a safe, sedentary, contemplative way to earn a living and hopefully achieve fame and fortune. It’s a jungle out there, and Rebeck has gathered several of its creatures together to snarl, growl, claw and mate with each other for 90 or so minutes. The result is slightly comedic, somewhat formulaic and, well, over-written.

Set in a posh Upper West Side Manhattan apartment designed by Scott Wyshynski, the play opens with four erstwhile writers gathered together for a seminar to be run by a literary almost-luminary. There is Douglas (Jim Dietter), a bit effete and very taken with his polysyllabic vocabulary. The New Yorker is interested in one of his stories and his father was a semi-famous playwright, so he is possibly a comer. However, Martin (Chris Luongo) is less than impressed with Doug’s name-dropping and argues for the purity of the writing pursuit (after all, it’s inspired by our higher angels, isn’t it?).

Purity doesn’t impress Izzy (Reesa Roccapriore), who is not averse to sleeping her way to publication and a possible spot on the New York Times’ bestseller list, while Kate (Anya Caravella), whose family leases the rent-controlled apartment, has been working on the same story for six years because since her stint at Bennington she has been told it shows promise.

Anyone who has spent any time with neophyte writers, many of whom can be found in the numerous collegiate MFA courses, will recognize these characters for, indeed, they are stereotypes: the wordy nerd enraptured by theory, the suffering artiste who does not think the world is ready for his prose, the semi-slut femme fatale, and the earnest, good little rich girl.

Enter Leonard (Kevin Sosbe), a once famous author now turned editor who will run the 10-week seminar. If the four tyro writers are Bambis in the woods, Leonard is a scarred rhinoceros complete with a horn that can gouge and eviscerate. A weary-world traveler who has seen suffering humanity at its worst, he is the play’s bargain-basement Hemingway, wearing his machismo on his sleeve and disdainful of those who have gathered to hear his words of wisdom.

Oddly enough, in a play about five writers, we never actually get to hear what any of them have written, save for the first five words of Kate’s story. Thus, quite a few minutes are spent throughout the play watching Leonard or one of the other characters reading and dropping manuscript pages on the floor. Not exactly compelling drama. It’s also a bit odd that in a play about a writing seminar so little is actually said about the writing process. There’s a lot of pontificating, pseudo-philosophizing and put-downs, but the five characters seem more interested in investigating and eviscerating egos and pointing out foibles and failures than in how words actually get formed into stories.

Leonard turns his scorn and less than acerbic wit on each writer in set-pieces that, at first, seem interesting but really go nowhere, so much so that a certain feeling of déjà vu sets in: Leonard speaks about his latest exploits in far off lands, reads several pages, then offers comments that are meant to cut to the writer’s quick. Actually, they just seem nasty.

As the evening nears its close, we are treated to an extended monologue by Leonard while the rest of the characters attempt to look as if they are interested. His woeful tale of a writer’s life seems to go on forever and though it is meant to be heartfelt, since we really don’t care about this character (we’ve been given no reason to), it engenders nothing more than a “So what?”

This is followed by an extended final scene set in Leonard’s book-lined apartment that is meant to resolve, well, whatever needs to be resolved. Is it unsatisfactory? Let me count the ways. Easy – it’s the sum of the number of times I thought: “No, I don’t buy that.”

As written, this is a tough play to stage, if only because in the multiple scenes of the actual seminar most of the actors really have nothing to do but react. Dempster has blocked the scenes using the full stage, but often we have characters locked in place or, worse still, making crosses that have no real motivation other than it’s time to move from here to there.

One of the few valid points brought up about fiction writing during the evening is that characters must have interior lives, so it is ironic that the characters Rebeck has created seem to merely exist on the surface. Thus, it’s difficult to generate any concern for what might happen to them, mainly because the stakes, such as they are, seem to be trivial, and the revelation that the publishing world is just a business like any other business is less than shattering. Yes, you can make it to the top through contacts or by sleeping with ‘the boss’ or by knifing the competition in the back. It’s just another jungle.

Seminar runs through March 12. For tickets or more information call 860-350-6863 or going online to

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mania on the Moors

The Moors -- Yale Repertory Theatre-- Thru Feb. 20

Kelly McAndrew and Birgit Huppuch.
All Photos by Joan Marcus

There’s an old saying that goes: “Don’t judge a play by its first ten minutes.” Well, maybe it isn’t an old saying, but in the case of The Moors, which is receiving its world premier at Yale Repertory Theatre, it is certainly true. This sly, slow-to-develop satire on a certain sub-genre of Victorian literature (both the books themselves and the authors – mainly female -- who wrote them) by Jen Silverman begins as a parlor drama and ends, well, tumbling into Grand Guignol with just a touch of Theater of the Absurd. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who stay the course of 90 minutes or so, there will be rewards.

The play is set in 19th century England in a rather forbidding house on the moors. Yes, it’s Hound of the Baskerville’s territory, Wuthering Heights land, and the bleak landscape casts a pall over the house’s inhabitants. There is Agatha (Kelly McAndrew), a stern lady given to speaking in a commanding monotone, and her sister Huldey (Birgit Huppuch), something of a flibbertigibbet who is obsessed with keeping a diary (which basically consists of entries stating “I am unhappy.”). Then there are the servants – actually just one servant who takes on different names, including Marjory (Hannah Cabell), depending on her task, illness or state of pregnancy. There is also a dog, a Mastiff (Jeff Biehl), purported to be extremely vicious, who will wander out onto the moors to discover an injured Moor-Hen (Jessica Love). There is also a brother who may or may not be dead. We never see the brother.

Jeff Biehl
Into this rather dark and dreary world enters a governess, Emilie (Miriram Silverman), who has ostensibly been hired by the brother to…well…there are no children to oversee, or “govern,” so her purpose is, at least at the beginning, somewhat vague. However, almost all will be explained in time (I think).

The play opens in a dark-paneled drawing room decorated with many stuffed animals and portraits of, one must assume, long-dead ancestors (the period-perfect design courtesy of Alexander Woodward). The two sisters sit in opposing chairs and chit-chat. Actually, Huldey chit-chats while Agatha responds in monosyllables. If the playwright’s intention was to establish that these two ladies lead lives of dreary boredom, then she succeeds wildly, for after several minutes of the banal conversation you might begin to wonder if you will be able to make it through the evening without dozing off. Director Jackson Gray has made this opening as low-key as possible, with Huldey hitting the same note over and over again (Yes, we get that she is ditzy and desperately desires her sister to surreptitiously delve into her oh-so-personal diary) and Agatha responding as if she is a graduate of the Morticia Addams School of Drama. What the hell is going on here?

Jessica Love and Jeff Biehl 
Well, this is a satire of a sort, and one of the things being satirized is the style of acting that flourished in 19th-century parlor (excuse me – “parlour”) dramas. It may be initially somewhat painful to watch, but once you realize what’s going on there’s a spark of interest, which is almost snuffed out with the first scene on the moors (the panels that create the drawing room slide off stage left and right to reveal the blighted landscape), for we now seem to have stumbled into Waiting-for-Godot-land as the Mastiff pontificates on loneliness and despair. He will soon be joined by the Moor-Hen (she has trouble landing and has injured her leg), and they will have quasi-philosophical discussions about God, life and relationships. Okay, we’re back again into what-the-hell-is-going-on mode.

Hannah Cabell
 There are several things going on. The first is the plight of the 19th-century female writer, often forced to publish her work under a male pseudonym. Then there is the satirizing of many of the plot lines of now famous Victorian novels, including that of Jane Eyre, many of said novels written by females. Then there is the setting itself, the moors, latched onto by the Romantics as an antidote to the classical style and Victorian mores that stultified. Yes, the moors are wild and ruled by nature’s fierce laws, but there is also a certain freedom that can be found here, a freedom to allow emotions to hold sway.

Miriam Silverman and Kelly McAndrew
 As the evening progresses and the scene shifts back and forth between the drawing room and the moors, the sliding panels become fewer, allowing the moors to slowly dominate as feral passions take control of the characters. Don’t want to be a spoiler, but the penultimate scene delivers on everything that Silverman and Gay have been building towards. It may not answer all questions, and may be a bit off-putting for the squeamish, but it is certainly satisfying (and, in a perverse way, quite funny).

The cast is charged with creating Victorian stereotypes (if a Mastiff and a Moor-Hen can said to be stereotypes) that they gradually break out of as the playwright slowly reveals her intentions. This binds McAndrew to a certain style of line delivery that, at times, must have her fingers twitching, for emotionally her character (think Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca) ends where she started. Her character is the essence of icy control and Silverman has given the actor few opportunities to shed the mantle. Such is not the case with Cabell, who transforms from servile scullery maid to manipulative accomplice, and, most especially, Huppuch, who morphs Huldey into a wildly manic character who dominates the end of the evening with a song that – well, that would be giving too much away.   

The Moors deals with many things, some more successfully than others. As satire, it is not as arch as it might have been, and the opening scenes need to convey a bit more of a hint as to how the audience is supposed to respond. Some of the Mastiff-Moor-Hen scenes generate little more than a “Yeah-yeah-Yada-yada” response. And yet, the production, replete with killer sound design and mood enhancing music by Daniel Kluger, delivers a certain degree of satisfaction. Slow to unfold and perhaps opting for subtle over sharp, The Moors remains intriguing.

The Moors runs through February 20. For tickets or more information call 203-432-1234 or go to