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The Moor review at Old Red Lion Theatre, London – ‘loses the plot’

Jill McAusland in The Moor at old Red Lion, London. Photo: The Other Richard Jill McAusland in The Moor at old Red Lion, London. Photo: The Other Richard
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Leaving their baby daughter with a sitter for the night, Bronagh and Graeme go to a party at the working men’s club across the moor. The next day the young couple learn that a guy they met that night has disappeared, and their lives are thrown into confusion.

The Moor begins as a taut domestic drama – Jill McAusland offers an affecting portrait of a young woman terrified by her abusive partner – but unfortunately it begins to unravel just a few scenes in. The mystery of the missing boy is intriguing at first but as Bronagh, muddled by postnatal depression and grief at the recent death of her mother, attempts to get to the bottom of what happened that night, The Moor literally loses the plot.

The police procedural element is full of holes, and it doesn’t help that the two male characters are all over the place in terms of their motivations and responses to the sequence of events that Bronagh sets in motion. Oliver Britten as Graeme and Jonny Magnanti as Pat the police detective do their best in the circumstances but playwright Catherine Lucie doesn’t give them to go on.

Holly Pigott’s set effectively evokes the brooding, threatening presence of the moor on Bronagh and Graeme’s doorstep, while Anna Clock’s sound design, punctuated by the maddening cries of baby Lana, conveys the tense and claustrophobic existence within their family home.

There’s the kernel of a good play here, but Lucie isn’t yet an experienced enough writer to make a success of a story that revolves around such an unreliable narrator. It needs further wrangling into shape.

 

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Verdict
A promising new play with a mystery at its heart, but one in need of development
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