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The Hunting Lodge (Susan Elkin reviews)


The Hunting Lodge

Unicorn Theatre

The best thing about this quirky 50-minute show is the fight between two women, immaculately directed by Alison de Burgh. Configuring Unicorn’s studio space, the Clore Theatre, to present a tranverse playing space means that every audience member is very close to the action. So a convincing fight is a tall order but here – with shoes thrown, kicks administered, cloths pulled tight round necks and lots of fierce grunting it comes off well. It is both entertaining and mildly horrifying.

Philip Arditti is a modern-ish Prince Charming, fraught with insecurities and mourning for his princess – Cinderella, Grace or what you will – who disappeared five years ago. Two women – played by Fiona Sheehan as Daisy and Rhiann Francis as Charlotte are out to get his attention now that he seems to be available. Naturally there’s little love lost between them especially since Charlotte is Daisy’s cleaner left and hasn’t been given a lift to the ball they’re all at in the eponymous Hunting Lodge.

In places it’s quite amusing. There’s real directorial confidence and actor showmanship in the silent interludes when we deduce thoughts from actions and chuckle at them. And Daisy chasing Charlotte with increasingly terrifying weapons including a pitchfork and a masonry drill is good comedy. So is the use of the Carmina Burana music during the fight.

On the whole though this play – although well enough acted – is trying far too hard to be too clever. Ignace Cornelissen is a Belgian playwright and Purni Morell has staged his work before (Henry V and The Winter’s Tale) before at Unicorn. As usual he is taking something well known (Cinderalla) and putting his own playful spin on it. The Hunting Lodge, which may have lost something in translation, is disappointingly contrived and feels quite lack lustre and weak.

First published by Sardines

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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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