The Sydney premiere of THE MOORS by Jen Silverman and directed by Kate Gaul, looms darkly through the fog before its opening to previews on February 7.
After being lured by mysterious letters, Emilie takes the position of governess in a household on the forbidding moors. Upon arriving, she finds two sisters – the stern and domineering Agatha, and the needy and flighty Hudley – a dog, and a glowering maid who isn’t always who or what she seems. Emilie’s arrival sets this odd assembly on a strange and increasingly bizarre path.
Inspired by the lives of the Brontë sisters, THE MOORS is a black comedy about love, desperation, and the way women are seen.
We had the opportunity to annoy cast member Brielle Flynn, who plays the hapless Emilie, while she was fog-deep in production week.
SAG: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. So, there are 4 women and a dog in the cast? I’m assuming The Moors passes the Bechdel test?
BRIELLE: Make that 4 women, a dog and a moor-hen! I think the great thing about this play is that it highlights a universal need for connection, happiness, independence and visibility – a need that goes beyond human relationships, but also one’s connection to their sense of place.
These characters are complex in their desires but ultimately are striving to move outside of their set circumstances and break the mould, which is exciting to watch, and at times a wild and hilarious ride. Each of them really test each other!
SAG: It’s a much anticipated production; there’s been considerable publicity through last year. What drew you to the project and when did you join?
BRIELLE: Firstly what drew me to the project was the prospect to work with Siren Theatre Company and the wonderful team, as well as its exploration of queer themes in a totally new context.
Once I had read the script I was hooked.
It is a fast paced, Victorian black comedy with splashes of the gothic and the absurd. I joined the cast at the end of 2018 in the role of Emilie, which was of course super exciting!
SAG: The play is very layered and you must have done a lot of reading. How did the rehearsal process evolve? Where did the literal text sit alongside immersion in the story of the Bröntes?
BRIELLE: Absolutely – I revisited the Bronte classics like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, and watched a few of the film versions. There are also some great reads and films about the Bronte sisters, which highlight how so much of their personal life is inside their stories.
It’s quite fascinating. Many of their texts explore this concept of visibility, but also that dark eccentric edge of strong female characters, which really ties in with The Moors. That said, many of the romantic concepts get turned on their head in the play, which really plunges it into a contemporary realm.
Within the rehearsal room, we had a lot of discussion about how the Bronte works are dappled throughout the play, and often made reference to them. Once we got into the needs of each character in the moment, things really started to shift. While you can sense the influence of the Bronte stories in Jen Silverman’s text, it took on a new, darker life.
SAG: Can audiences expect a period feel to the production and how will that manifest?
BRIELLE: The production is within a Victorian setting, set upon the English Moors. However, the themes it explores are absolutely relevant to a contemporary audience. There is this seething desperation for “happiness” inside each of them, but the ways they go about achieving it are so different.
I love how the relationship between Emilie and Agatha evolves and is so much more than a textbook romance; it is an intellectual connection and a kind of mutual negotiation.
SAG: What details would you encourage audiences to look for in the production and what do you feel they will take away with them?
BRIELLE: It’s hard to say what I think the audience should be looking for, but perhaps it has a lot to do with one particular male character and what he might mean to each of these women, or for hints on which room they are in at which time.
Beyond that, I feel audiences will reflect on the concepts of ‘security’, happiness, or fame; and how far people (or dogs and moor-hens) might go in striving for such ideals.
SAG: Jen Silverman is coming for the opening. How’s that for pressure?
BRIELLE: Oh yes, no pressure! We are so excited for her to come along. It will be lots of fun!
SAG: Many thanks again for taking our questions at such busy time and best wishes for a successful run.