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Vancouver Theatre: Hunter Gatherers

Hunter Gatherers
by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
directed by Ryan Gladstone
A Staircase Theatre Production
Havana Theatre
Oct 30 to November 15, 2014

Vancouver, BC: I really enjoyed the work of this young theatre company, Staircase Theatre in their previous show Cocktails at Pam's.   Hunter Gatherers by contemporary San- Francisco based playwright, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb was an equally great  choice. Director Ryan Gladstone's finely honed comedic touch and perfectly pitched performances from all four actors, did full credit to  the dark humour of the script. So much so that I made a mental note to myself to read more of Nachtrieb's plays.

The play opens as Richard (Jay Clift), macho-man extraordinaire and Pam (Pippa Mackie) wide-eyed, submissive wife, are getting ready for their annual anniversary dinner with their best buddies, Tom (Peter Carlone),  a doctor and subservient husband to Wendy (Maryanne Renzetti), a frustrated, manically effusive powerhouse. On the menu planned by Richard who considers himself an epicurean chef, is lamb, my personal favorite animal protein. My lamb however comes neatly wrapped in plastic from the supermarket! 
With the arrival of the dinner guests, tantalizing odours wafting from the kitchen and wine ready for serving, the dinner party is underway ... and the sacrificial lamb is only the first hint of how this dinner party devolves.

Clift and Renzetti were outrageously lusty and sensual  as their dominant hunter characters while Mackie and Carlone evoked sympathy as the meek, accommodating gatherer half of the duos. Although a comedy, this play depicted the violence of murder, male rape and rough sex and these actors went for these graphic scenes with no holding back, showing how savage tendencies may lurk below thr mask of seemingly civilised behaviour of their characters.

The set design of the apartment  was very well conceived by Carolyn Rapanos  and worked well for the long narrow playing space of the Havana Theatre. I loved the wall paper design in the dining area and the lighting effect (Sara Smith) at the end was effectively transformative.  Sara Melos created realistic props especially the cooked sacrifice with the weaponised lamb legs!

This is a clever and darkly funny play,  really well acted and produced. I highly recommend a trip out to the Havana Theatre to see it. And in case the dinner preparations make you hungry, you can satisfy your taste buds with the amazing truffle fries or other dishes at the Havana Restaurant before or after the show.

The show runs till November 15. For  tickets on line book here.