Red Stitch Theatre are thrilled to be presenting the Australian Premiere of Jen Silverman’s vivid and bizarre, the Moors – a play described as, flights of fancy and tales of deceit, it is a story inspired by the Brontë sisters and Victorian Gothic, with a contemporary twist.
The setting is the bleak moors of England, with the action revolving around two sisters—one desperately unhappy, the other resolutely miserable. The other occupants of the gloomy old mansion are, their elder brother, a scullery maid and their mastiff.
Red Stitch ensemble member (since 2003) Dion Mills plays the melancholy mastiff who, in Silverman’s interesting take on gender and identity exploration, finds love and acceptance in a truly unique way.
Says Mills about his character: “He’s a mastiff, a very large dog (and, according to his mistress, very dangerous) but he’s described by the playwright (Jen Silverman) as “a sad philosopher-king”. He’s certainly very articulate, but humans find him incomprehensible. He’s very lonely. He’s as sweet as a carnivore can be (as are humans, I guess). He’s the only creature on stage with actual balls, but these, um, lure him (and the story) in seemingly unlikely ways.”
Award winning Silverman is renown for creating plays that are more than a little odd, that challenge the status quo, that deconstruct the familiar. The Moors is no different. Says Mills, describing the play:
“Think of it as smashed avocado on rye (sourdough, naturally) but the avocado is ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Cries and Whispers’, ‘Rebecca’, ‘The Handmaiden’, ‘The Piano’, ‘The Draughtsman’s Contract’, ‘Portrait of a Lady’ and ‘The Innocents’ (in all their many and varied forms) all seasoned with Kate Bush and Maria von Trapp.”
Mills is no stranger to accommodating roles of a non human form, having played chimp Oliver in last year’s Red Stitch smash hit, Trevor, so challenges in the rehearsal room are officially null and void. Mills quips, “What, the character of a dog?” when asked about any challenges in the rehearsal room. “My favourite role last year was a thespian chimpanzee, so maybe the answer’s no. The director (Stephen Nicolazzo) had me watch the sublime 1952 movie version of Daphne du Maurier’s “My Cousin Rachel”. Richard Burton, he said, was key (though Burton’s balls were, surely, way bigger than mine). He was right.”
Mills is a busy actor in a fickle industry (Eurydice, Seminar, Trevor, The River, Penelope to name a few) His bio is impressive but, as an actor, what sort of characters does he prefer to play. “Characters as flawed as mine might be if only given rein, ” he says. Silverman’s play offers this in spades! Her writing is deep, intelligent and fleeting. The Moors is likened to a dreamscape – ethereal but full bodied and funny to boot.
Says Mills about The Moors: “Its women are dazzling. Its director’s an original, and – in him – its playwright has lucked upon a creature who does her wild creation justice.”
June 6 – July 9