Off-Broadway Review: THE HUNT (St. Ann’s Warehouse)

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by Gregory Fletcher on February 25, 2024

in Theater-New York


The Jungle. Volcano. Life & Times of Michael K. In the last year alone, the venerable St. Ann’s Warehouse has hosted stunning theater from around the world. But last night came the most powerful, provocative theater imaginable. Not to be missed, the U.S. premiere of London’s Almeida Theatre production of The Hunt — as cautionary as Miller’s The Crucible — will leave viewers with tensed muscles and knotted stomachs, as only the best theater can do.

Christopher Riley and Aerina DeBoer
Tobias Menzies and Aerina DeBoer

That is because visionary director Rupert Goold breathlessly stages this disturbing, heartbreaking play as a thriller. His work is captivating and brave; he even dares to break the cardinal rule of including children and animals onstage; although, rest assured no upstaging is tolerated — the kids and the dog play an integral part to the unnerving drama and creepy conflict. Almeida’s Artistic Director, Goold’s Broadway credits include King Charles III, American Psycho, Enron, and Macbeth. 2024 is proving to be a major creative year for him in New York; following The Hunt are his Broadway productions of Tammy Faye and Patriots.

Howard Ward, Aerina DeBoer, and Lolita Chakrabarti
Tobias Menzies and Christopher Riley

Not since Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour has a child instigated so much fear and hysteria from a lie. Yes, the child in The Hunt is hurting, but it’s a child. And the adults in charge, parents, and surrounding community must protect children, even if it means running with a misguided mob that destroys an innocent man’s life. We live in an era of cancel culture, where a mere accusation can cause the downfall of an individual or even an institution. And when you’re dealing with self-righteous hypocrites, the rule of condemnation comes first. We get a painful but necessary reminder that a community can cancel anyone with a swipe, especially when it comes to “protecting our children.” But beware, we all live in glass houses, and stones may be thrown your way whether innocence prevails or not.

MyAnna Buring, Aerina DeBoer, and Alex Hassell
Tobias Menzies and the ensemble of The Hunt

Performing 100 minutes without a break, the stalwart 13-member ensemble is led by Tobias Menzies from TV’s The Crown, Game of Thrones, and Outlander. With understatement, he plays Lucas, a solid, moral elementary schoolteacher who tactfully explains to a sixth grader Clara (an impressive Aerina DeBoer, alternating with Kay Winard) that the romantic gift she gave him along with physical affection “isn’t for teachers” but rather “for mummies and daddies.” He gives back the red heart lollipop. “You should give it to a friend,” he tells her, hoping the incident has come to an end. The teacher’s innocence is never in question, yet all goes awry when the sapling later delivers a fabricated story to the school principal, Hilde (Lolita Chakrabarti).

Tobias Menzies and Raphael Casey
The ensemble of The Hunt

Acknowledging our current state of fearmongering and crowds bent on lawless violence, it’s all the more tragic to watch the destruction of a man’s life. Yes, if Lucas weren’t such a private person who lives with walls up, he could’ve professed his innocence more publicly. Or perhaps he mistakenly trusted that his proven work ethics and reputation would be enough to uphold his innocence. The loss that Mr. Menzies portrays is painful to witness, but what a stunning U.S. theater debut.

The other exceptional ensemble members include Myanna Buring, Raphael Casey, Adrian Der Gregorian, Ali Goldsmith, Alex Hassell, Shaquille Jack, Danny Kirrane, Jonathan Savage, Howard Ward and Christopher Riley, alternating with Rumi C. Jean-Louis.

Tobias Menzies
Tobias Menzies, Raphael Casey, and the ensemble of The Hunt

Adapted by David Farrand from the 2012 Danish film Jagten by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, the design elements of the production play a huge role . Set Designer Es Devlin places a small glass house centerstage with walls that go from clear to opaque with Neil Austin’s strikingly effective lighting. This neon-ringed structure serves as various homes, a school classroom, hunting lodge, and church. Adam Cork’s sound design and composition work together with Kel Matsena’s movement to project a masculinity that is toxic yet captivating. Evie Gurney’s realistic costumes look well-worn, depicting the residents of this small Norwegian town, but when the headdresses of mythical-like stags appear, it’ll give you a jolt.

MyAnna Buring, Aerina DeBoer, and the ensemble of The Hunt

photos by Teddy Wolff

The Hunt
The Almeida Theatre
St. Ann’s Warehouse, 45 Water St in Brooklyn (on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO)
Tues-Sat at 7:30; Sat & Sun at 2
ends on March 17, 2024 EXTENDED to March 24, 2024
for tickets ($60-$80), call 212.254.8779 visit St. Ann’s Warehouse

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Amor Vincit Omnia February 25, 2024 at 4:57 pm

Saw this on the first preview, Feb 16, and wholeheartedly agree with your review. It’s a stunning production led by the incomparable Tobias Menzies in a spectacular performance as Lucas, and directed with the expertly bold, confident, imaginative hand for which Rupert Goold has come to be known (his most recent production, Dear England, just completed an equally successful run in the West End, U.K. and is showing at select theaters in both the U.K & U.S.). The Hunt is unmissable theatre. Mr. Fletcher, your review is correct: This is a must see for everyone.


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