Sunday, February 15, 2015

You On The Moors Now

You On The Moors Now, written by Jaclyn Backhaus, is a de- and re-construction of the romantic tropes that have permeated our culture from Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and Wuthering Heights. This production, currently playing as part of the SubletSeries@HERE, was created and produced by Theatre Reconstruction Ensemble, a group of talented and attractive young performers. The director is John Kurzynowski.

Claire Rothrock (River Sister), Kelly Rogers (Lizzy), Lauren Swan-Potras (Jo),
Anastasia Olowin (Cathy), Sam Corbin (Jane)
Suzi Sadler
The script has a note that says: Script lives on page different than on stage! Have the most fun with whatever this means.

Here this means that the Theatre Reconstruction Ensemble riffs on the themes of the play as a jazz band might riff on a well-known standard. The result is an intriguing kaleidoscope of ideas and styles, thought-provoking and occasionally quite funny.

Jane, Lizzie, Jo, and Cathy meet while running on the moors. If those names don't immediately say to you Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and Wuthering Heights, respectively, this might not be the show for you. If you do know those names, and perhaps love those characters, there is much here you will like.

When the audience enters, the four women sit in period costumes in high-backed chairs, with their respective suitors standing behind them. The eight stay largely motionless until the show begins. It is oddly formal, and keeps the audience whispering their pre-show conversations.

Once the show starts, all formality is lost. We notice that the characters are barefoot. Language is peppered with modern curses and phrases. The acting styles are peculiar, with frozen gestures, random yelling, and much making of faces. People in modern dress play some of the other characters. A lot of running occurs. Modern senses bump up against 19th-century sensibilities, and something new and undefined is born.

The show works against itself in a few ways. It is too long. The hypnotic repeated chords of the soundscape combine with the dark lighting to induce cat naps in the audience. The show never quite comes clear, and the end, there is a certain amount of "What was that?" in the audience.

However, and this is a big however, the show is very much worth seeing, particularly if you are comfortable just letting it be what is--and even more so if Jane, Lizzie, Jo, and Cathy are old friends.

(press ticket; third row center)

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