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Review: The Moor, at Old Red Lion Theatre

Edge-of-seat intensity and themes of murder-mystery, lust and infidelity in Catherine Lucie’s story of a dysfunctional couple

22 February, 2018 — By Sabrina Dougall

Jill McAusland and Oliver Britten in The Moor. Photo: The Other Richard

YOUNG Yorkshirewoman Bronagh (Jill McAusland) is a dedicated stay-at-home mum to three-month-old Lana frequently rounded upon by swaggering, explosive partner Graham (Oliver Britten).

Anxiety and aggression boil over in convincingly acted arguments over love and loyalty, prompting edge-of-seat intensity as the audience puzzles over the truth behind a boy’s disappearance after a party.

Britten’s physical agitation believably embodies the near-surface rage of fragile masculinity and sparks shocked silence in a frequently captivated audience.

Policeman Pat (Jonny Magnanti) lends a much-needed third dimension to the couple’s dysfunctional dialogue as he mediates the telling and re-tellings of a half-remembered, half-dreamed journey home from the party by a distressed Bronagh.

Rotating panels depicting smokily painted hillsides evoke the shiftiness of each player’s identity and perception of one another. This is effective, and well-timed lighting accents the mistrusting mood.

By contrast, a twee refrain “bring back my baby, oh” sung dreamily by McAusland at the end of too many scenes lends fleeting depth to the character and plot development, but seems a hackneyed way of distracting the audience from scenery changes.

Themes of murder mystery, lust, infidelity, violence, risk and motherhood swirl into a promising storm of dramatic intrigue, yet an unsatisfactory conclusion by writer Catherine Lucie deflates the plot and really undoes the whole play.

Worst of all is the resurrection of the “mad woman in a mental asylum” trope which trots out the 19th century adage that over-emotional females are unreliable narrators.


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