In a parallel universe, another play will have opened at The Old Red Lion Theatre tonight, but in this universe, it was the turn of Catherine Lucie’s The Moor, directed by Blythe Stewart. This is a psychological thriller which considers what might have been, and tries to identify the turning point that allows fate to take its course, all while presenting us with a complex tale laden with breath-taking twists and turns.
Bronagh thinks she’s witnessed a crime, but she can’t be sure, reality is melding with her dreams and the myths of the moor weigh heavy on her mind. Alternatively, she could be completely sure of what’s she’s doing, but despite the fact the character continuously breaks the fourth wall to confide in us, we’re never quite certain if what she’s telling us, or herself, is true.
In the role of Bronagh, Jill McAusland gives a very convincing performance, which leaves the audience reeling. She is on stage as the audience enters, apparently asleep, and if you look closely you can see from the quivers of her body, the turmoil which the all-important dream is taking on the character.
Also giving a strong performance is Oliver Britten as Graeme. His character immediately comes across as controlling and violent, and his menacing stares helps drive the message home. The cast is completed by Jonny Magnanti as Pat, at first a fatherly figure who must soon put duty before personal allegiances.
The sense of claustrophobia and oppression is particularly visible in the staging, Holly Pigott’s set design sees the moor portrayed as a series of Perspex panels, rotating on their central axes. The heavy brush strokes of dark paint evoking the mystery, and expanse of the headland that surrounds the small family unit, while props moving of their own accord heighten the tension. Jamie Platt’s lighting, combined with Anna Clock’s music creates a suitably eerie ambiance.
The Moor manages to be a thriller, without being terrifying, but instead takes the likeness of a modern-day Hitchcock. Catherine Lucie’s plot is gripping, while Blythe Stewart’s direction keeps the pace at a tense enough level. Finally, superb performances from the cast, particularly Jill McAusland, leave the audience grateful to be present in the universe where The Moor is on stage.