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September 25, 2023

A Review: Clemson Players’ “The Moors”

On Sunday, Oct. 9, The Clemson Players closed their run of Jen Silverman’s dark comedy “The Moors” at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts. With the blackbox lights going down on the Branwell Estate one final time, we can finally discuss the shocking tale of two sisters and their dog living alone on the titular landscape.
Silverman’s story of isolation and visibility was a perfect fit for the Players’ Fall opener. The horror elements felt right at home in this macabre month; and they were executed flawlessly. After opening night, I found myself looking over my shoulder on my walk home.
My terror can definitely be attributed to the expert craftsmanship of set designer Shannon Robert, lighting designer Liam Donley, and sound designer Christopher Sauerbrey, as well as the rest of the incredibly talented crew. The Bellamy Theater was unrecognizable. Stepping through those doors, the audience was transported to the consuming landscape of the English moors. When it emerged an hour and 45 minutes later, the world seemed a much more frightening place.
Skylar Hubbarth, a junior performing arts and computer science major, played the sheltered young sister, Huldey, and shined in her desperation for fame. Her performance, alone, was expertly funny and sympathetic, with a musical number in the second act that proved she has a rockstar career to fall back on if performing arts or computer science don’t work out.
Hubbarth shared most scenes with fifth year performing arts major Daniela La Ferrara, who played her harsh older sister Agatha. La Ferrara’s cold exterior was impressively maintained, even in the face of some of the show’s most comedic lines. But, even more impressive was her gentler side, which shone through in more intimate scenes alongside the bright-eyed governess Emilie. Emilie was played by junior performing arts and economics major Katie Cannon, who was charming and forthright as the sweet newcomer. She stole the audience’s hearts right alongside the other characters with an enchanting lullaby performed live on her guitar.
The final of the human characters, Marjory (or is it Mallory?), the family’s scullery maid (or is it the parlor?), was played by junior performing arts major Sierra Jensen. One of the wittiest and most cunning characters in the show, Jensen gave a most compelling arc and was a joy to audiences each and every night.
In an animal-centric subplot that truly would make a fascinating play all on its own, the family’s mastiff, played by sophomore performing arts major Wesley Cotter, befriends an injured Moor-Hen, played by senior performing arts major Ashlyn Short. Cotter’s Mastiff stole every scene with his pensive monologues as his desperation for companionship escalated to terrifying heights. Short’s Moor-Hen began as a lovable, flighty bird who just couldn’t seem to get the whole flying thing right. But, she grew into an incredibly complex character, perhaps one with the clearest worldview of all in the show.
From beginning to end, “The Moors” was engaging and exciting. The story’s mystery was performed flawlessly, always maintaining the intrigue without ever becoming convoluted. This performance was a true testament to the star power in Clemson’s performing arts program.

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Sydney Olsen, TimeOut Editor
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