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The Hunt

  • Theater, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Tobias Menzies in The Hunt
Photograph: Courtesy Teddy WolffThe Hunt

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A new British import probes the dangers of mass hysteria.

Theater review by Joey Sims

In the gripping new British import The Hunt, Tobias Menzies (The Crown) plays a kindergarten teacher in a small Danish town who is falsely accused of sexual abuse. As hysteria grows and his loved ones look at him with new eyes, a mob mentality soon places Lucas’s life in danger—and David Farr’s horror-infused thriller, adapted from Thomas Vinterberg’s 2012 Danish film, gradually reveals itself to be a moving, melancholic character study.

The centerpiece of Rupert Goold’s production, which has moved to St. Ann’s Warehouse from London's Almeida Theatre, is a small and suffocating glass house into which a multitude of town scenes—tense homes, cramped offices, packed churches—are discomfitingly stuffed. Scenic designer Es Devlin (The Lehman Trilogy) specializes in glass boxes; here, the tight encasement is smartly used to suggest both individual isolation and the lure of social conformity. Goold’s muscular staging establishes a tight-knit community with violence lurking at its edges: The local hunting group, heavy-drinking and heavily armed, chants and stomps in Kel Matsena’s frightening movement work. Flashing glimpses of a minotaur-like figure suggest the fine line dividing the hunters from their prey. 

The Hunt | Photograph: Courtesy Teddy Wolff

Menzies is a remote, reserved performer, and Goold plays smartly upon that blankness. Lucas feels disconnected from the other adults, and only seems to come alive with his students—or with his dog, Max, played by adorable coonhound Jethro. (Move over, Messi!) Even the people closest to Lucas begin to project their darkest paranoias onto his unreadable persona. And Menzies brings heartbreaking clarity to Lucas’s realization that something intimate did pass between him and the child in question, though not what the town thinks—a complicated moment of shared understanding that he could never hope to explain.

Farr’s adaptation sidesteps potential evocations of cancel culture, sometimes a bit awkwardly, to allow space for a sharp but tender drama as the story’s focus shifts to Lucas’s sweet dynamic with his son, Marcus (Raphael Casey), who accepts his father’s innocence without question. Yet somehow, even after all we’ve seen with our own eyes, there is a looming discomfort in their father-son intimacy. It might be our own paranoia seeping through, but Goold lets the question linger: Can we ever really be sure? 

The Hunt. St. Ann’s Warehouse (Off Broadway). By David Farr. Directed by Rupert Goold. With Tobias Menzies. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission. 

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The Hunt | Photograph: Courtesy Teddy Wolff

Written by
Joey Sims


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