BWW Review: THE HUNT, Almeida Theatre
Set in small-town Denmark, The Hunt (based on the 2012 film by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm) is a tense, uncomfortable watch, due both to the subject matter and the production.
Six-year-old schoolgirl Clara (on press night an impressively still, measured and almost spooky Taya Tower) offers schoolteacher Lucas (Tobias Menzies) a gift which he refuses, then wrongly accuses him of exposing himself to her.
The allegation is (rightly, of course) taken seriously. But by the time Clara tells her mother she 'said a silly thing', events have spiralled out of control among the small community, ostracising Lucas from his colleagues, friends and hunting companions.
Tobias Menzies is quiet, resolute and occasionally angry as Lucas. He's a man who tends to keep it all in, so unfortunately for him the accusations fit with the lazy stereotype of 'the quiet one no one really knows'.
The point is also made that the words and images used by Clara in her accusation would not typically be things a six-year-old would know. However, the community seems to have forgotten that in these times extreme care is needed regarding kids' access to technology and social media.
Rupert Goold's Nordic Noir-esque direction ensures that the tension ramps up throughout the show. The quieter, stiller scenes are punctuated with loudly sung and boldly choreographed group swimming, hunting and drinking sessions. The frequent contrasts help to maintain the sense of unease.
Es Devlin's set has as its focus point a simple Perspex box at the centre of an occasionally revolving stage. Coupled with clever lighting, it effectively delineates certain parts of the action; the slightly muffled sound, claustrophobic crush of people, or physical barrier between characters accentuates some of the key moments.
The Hunt is not an easy night at the theatre, but it's an affecting one.
Photo credit: Marc Brenner