Hunter Gatherers is not for sissies.
That admonition is aimed at prospective theater-goers, but it applies to the production’s actors as well. This black comedy stands many conventions on their heads and runs roughshod over others. Just the language itself was enough to elicit gasps from some of the theatergoers in Richmond, IL, at the show I attended last Saturday night (May 11, 2013). While the twists and turns of the plot are somewhat predictable, the show still demands a lot from its actors.
Fortunately, the Theater Undreground (TUG for short) players are up to the task. Hunter Gatherers is their tightest show yet.
The cast of HG is composed of three TUG regulars – David Baker (frequent TUG director and actor), Katelin Stack (recently Lynette/Bonnie in Doubting Thomason), and Tim Vance (Jake/Murderin’ Ted in Doubting Thomason) – along with TUG newcomer Kirsten Didier. All turn in first-class performances in roles that sometimes require as much physicality as pure acting intensity. The range demanded by the roles is great, but all seem to have upped their games (which were considerable to begin with) for this play. Certainly the recent Second City training engaged in by (at least) Baker and Stack has really paid off.
The acting was superb at the performance I attended and the timing impeccable – probably the best I’ve seen at TUG. This is professional work being done by dedicated amateurs.
The show is about two couples (Vance & Stack, and Baker & Didier), longtime friends who meet for a special dinner every year, and the problems that ensue when artist Richard’s passions and primal instincts are thrust upon the others. I won’t say more, as part of the pleasure of a story like this is the twists and turns that surprise you along the way.
The play is supplemented by original musical numbers written (especially for this production) and performed by Ian Hall and Greg Heininger. The songs, too, are wonderful – dark and comic and brazen and lovingly performed. Frequent TUG contributors, the musicians, too, have outdone themselves.
All of which is to say that you should go and see this show. The acting is great, the songs are awesome, the production is sharp, and the play itself is solid and entertaining. Unless you’re really squeamish (read “a wuss”), you shouldn’t let the adult language and situations put you off.
For years, TUG has been pushing the envelope of community theater in Richmond, and in this production they have outdone themselves. Reward them for it.
I found out after the show that Hunter Gatherers is to be the swan song for longtime TUG producer (and frequent actor) Tim Mosbach. He certainly picked a high note to go out on.
Catch Hunter Gatherers before its run ends on May 25 (2013).