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Bleak British landscape sets stage for ‘The Moors’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two spinster sisters live with their brother and a mastiff in a gloomy old mansion.

Add a bleak British landscape.

Sounds like the brooding Brontës, right?

“It’s somewhat ‘Downton Abbey’-meets Lizzie Borden,” said Robb Anthony Sisneros, director of “The Moors,” opening at The Cell Theatre on Thursday, March 8.

“The relationships become entwined through the skeletons in the closet.”

A family summons a governess to their isolated home teeming with secrets and desires. Set in a predatory landscape, “The Moors” threads the creative lives of 19th-century women with today’s sensibilities.

Playwright Jen Silverman penned her play after being inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s letters about life on the Yorkshire Moors.

“It’s an homage to them, but it is not about them specifically,” Sisneros said. “The secrets of the family become involved with an outsider who is being welcomed as a governess.”

Those secrets revolve around class and past abuse that resonates with the present #MeToo movement.

“We’re dealing with a brother and a father that have been very heavy-handed with the family,” Sisneros said.

The play also incorporates animals; the family dog inconveniently falls in love with a Moor-Hen.

Both are fighting against nature.

“They have to overcome their natural fears,” Sisneros said.

A stark and lonely landscape becomes a fertile petri dish of imaginations and longing for connection. Diaries and letters become tools for deception and delusion.

“The main character in my mind is the title – ‘The Moors’ – and how this desolate place can keep its own secrets,” Sisneros said.