"The Hunting of the Snark" (Strawdog Theatre): Coloring-Out-Of-The-Lines Literature

"The Hunting of the Snark" (Strawdog Theatre):  Coloring-Out-Of-The-Lines Literature

Strawdog Theatre Company’s Hugen Hall presents the World premiere of THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK.

Stepping into Hugen Hall for this show, it’s apparent playtime has started before the play time.  The quirky-dressed ensemble is mingling.  The laughter is loud.  The energy is bubbling.  It has all the makings for a party.  The cast is passing out props around the room; a plunger, a rope, a mallet.  I become the guardian of a feather.  We are encouraged to color our image of a snark for the wall of fame.  It’s all just fun and games and Strawdog wants everybody to catch their glee. Suddenly, a cast member begins an impromptu acoustic rendition of “Come Sail Away.”  One by one, each of the others grab a suitcase and join in.  The robust harmonies fill the room with a unified, lively spirit.  It’s time to go on an adventure.

Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical poem sets this show a sail.   Under the direction of Josh Sobel and the movement direction of Aileen McGroddy, Carroll’s silly rhymes become vivid visuals by the talented dozen.  In a beginning scene, the ensemble perfectly simulate a ship in a storm.  With only ropes and lights, the crew move in impressive synchronization to replicate the tossing and turning of waves.  This scene is one of the string of colorful, well-orchestrated, musical gags.  In another sequence, mountain climbing is simulated by climbing over and under cast mates. The physicality takes on a child-like zest as the ensemble uses limited props and their own persons to illustrate the poetic frolic. This entire romp is cute and clever.

In the midst of this recess-like ambiance, Sobel effectively injects an instructional film about ‘hunting snarks.‘ Created by Projection Designer Michelle Underwood, the black-and-white movie is pure old school.  It’s dry 1950‘s P.E. styled narration contrasts hilariously with all the personality on this hunt.

This show skillfully actualizes the preposterous nature of Carroll’s poem. It’s color-out-of-the-lines classic literature. For me, THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK was like going sober to the Gay Pride Parade.  Although I appreciate the colorful spectacle, I’m not having as much fun as the merry revelers on the hunt. Undeniably, this cast is enjoying chasing a snark.  Boojum!

Running Time:  One hour with no intermission

At Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway

Based on Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of The Snark”

Directed by Josh Sobel

Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays at 8pm

May 20th and 21st shows are at 9pm

Thru May 28th

Buy Tickets at www.strawdog.org

Production photo by Kyle Hamman

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