Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre’s Bar Kapra the Squirrel Hunter is still really, really pretty to watch. This play about a hunter that shoots his assistant when she realizes that he is flubbing it on purpose is really well designed and performed with gusto and energy…but quite frankly, the flaws that were present in the workshop production this summer are still present in this version and I am a bit disappointed considering the mountain of talent working on this show.
I saw the workshop production this summer at the Montreal Fringe Festival and what impressed me at the time was the language. While hard to follow at times and rapid-fire, the language tickled the ear and really made one pay attention to try to discover the dynamics between the parties in this close-to-our-world-but-not-quite universe that this play inhabits. I found that I missed the alien cadences (that, full disclosure, I had complained about last time) that took me out of the present moment in this version of the show and this made it harder for me to immerse myself into this weird little world where squirrels were to be hunted, because this is after all, your job and they are devils with no souls.
Also, last summer, I must confess, I did not really understand what we were doing there in the first place. I am no more illuminated in this version. I talked to a few other people, and I was not alone in my opinion on the clarity of the piece. What we see is a younger person caught between two older people, perhaps her divorced parents, holding onto their secrets and lies, forcing a child in between them? I am not sure. It could be about redundancy, capitalism, secrets and omissions, loyalty, the nature of forgiveness. It feels like it doesn’t know itself what it is trying to be. I have seen in twice now, and I still need an explanation.
As for the positives, the video work, the design elements and Andreas Apergis’ staging in general is original and interesting and makes for a very beautiful and surreal experience. The performances by Jennifer Roberts, Chip Chuipka, and France Rolland are all solid and confident.
Despite the fact that I have been critical, I still would recommend this show. I think that there is a lot worth spending time with in this production. It is interesting to watch and will make you think about a variety of things, themes, and about stylistic choices in theatrical productions more generally. Everyone’s talent is on full display here. I would say that this is theatre for theatre people and would LOVE to hear what you think about it after you see it.
Bar Kapra the Squirrel Hunter is playing at Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire (4750 Henri-Julien) from March 4-13, 2016. Tickets can be reserved at 514-873-4031 ext 313, are 22.20-29.40 if bought online here (http://www.admission.com/event/scapegoat-carnivale-theatre-presents-bar-kapra-the-squirrel-hunter-tickets/839553) , are 2 for 1 Wednesday, March 9, 2016.