Hilary Holbrook has worked as an actor and violinist in Chicago since graduating from Loyola in 2008. When not in the theater, Hilary enjoys knitting, antiquing, and adventures of all kinds!
(center, l to r) Japhet Balaban and Emjoy Gavino with the cast of in The Hypocrites’ Chicago premiere of YOU ON THE MOORS NOW by Jaclyn Backhaus, directed by Devon de Mayo. Photo by Evan Hanover.
Review: YOU ON THE MOORS NOW at The Hypocrites
By Hilary Holbrook
I love a good parody. Any show that has the ability to take a topic, flip it on its head, and examine the issue from an entirely new perspective is well worth the price of admission. The Hypocrites production of YOU ON THE MOORS NOW certainly has that potential, but some confusing time jumps and gaps in the story left me more perplexed than anything else.
Set in the fictional Pemberly Museum, the play by Jaclyn Backhaus mashes the stories of LITTLE WOMEN, JANE EYRE, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and specifically examines the heroines and their respective suitors lives after each has refused a proposal of marriage. A battle of the sexes ensues, but, in the end, each couple still met the same outcome as in the novels—which led me to wonder what was the exact purpose of this story.
A central theme of this story is the importance of female relationships and the need for women to be their own person, not dependent on the husband to whom they are wed. I wholeheartedly agree and applaud these themes, but I would argue that the books themselves already promote them, even if they are promoted within the context of the time period in which they were written. In the books, no one forces Jo to accept Laurie, and Elizabeth turns down Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy before eventually accepting him. Both are extremely gutsy moves for the time, so I’m not sure what was added by the emphasis on their denial in this story. On the flipside, it was extremely funny to see the fallout of these proposals from the male perspective (Desmond Gray’s Darcy had me cracking up for sure!), but the following war waged by the men on the women went on a little too long. The whole show sits at this exaggerated level of zaniness that prevented any real depth of the story from coming through.
The show is undoubtedly fun. I laughed and definitely gained a new appreciation for Jane Eyre (Kudos to BrittneyLove Smith), but a really good parody flips a topic on its head in order to expose some truth we didn’t see before, and that’s where I feel this script is lacking. If what we saw was what the playwright intended, then I suggest trimming the piece and marketing it as a late-night performance. However, if there is some deeper meaning to be found, and I think there is, then I suggest going back to the storyboard.