‘The Hunt’ Review: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

‘The Hunt’ Review: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

After 6-year-old Clara (Aerina DeBoer at the performance I attended) tells the kindergarten head, Hilde (Lolita Chakrabarti), that she has been molested by Lucas, his world collapses. There is never any doubt that the teacher is innocent, and the show makes obvious the thin line between competing imperatives — listening to potential victims but also not rushing to judgment.

There is also never any doubt here that a source of Clara’s need for acknowledgment is that she feels neglected by her parents, Theo and Mikala (Alex Hassell and MyAnna Buring), who are in a dysfunctional relationship. After the accusation, they close rank and pounce on Lucas, who happened to be their friend, just like all the villagers rally against him. Mikala, in particular, is shown to pick and choose what she wants to believe, unperturbed by any lapses in logic, or evidence.

Lucas’s transition from hunter to hunted is among the shifting perspectives visualized by the ingenious set devised by Es Devlin (currently the subject of a retrospective exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum). The stage is dominated by what looks like an avant-garde Nordic tiny home placed on a rotating turntable, with walls that switch, as if by magic, from transparent to opaque and back. Intimate conversations take place in the house, but Goold can also cram a whole bunch of people in it, like the members of the lodge or the faithful at the midnight Mass. This structure is both public and private; it protects secrets and reveals them; it can offer shelter and harbor violence. It is the production’s single most fascinating element, and it is used devilishly well in conjunction with Neil Austin’s lighting and Adam Cork’s sound design and composition.

As a play, “The Hunt” is not so much about the downward spiral of a wronged man than it is about mob cruelty, as the chant about a witch suggests. In yet another heavy-handed move, the hunters even turn up with torches toward the end. What, no pitchforks? Did the Danish version of the Home Depot run out?

What remains is Menzies’s Lucas, a man in the eye of a maelstrom, initially mired in impassive incomprehension until a particularly brutal act shocks him into fury. Resolution, when it comes, feels just as slippery and unstable as what preceded it: There are things you cannot walk back.

The Hunt
Through March 17 at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn; stannswarehouse.org. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

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