Edinburgh Fringe 2015
A musical comedy about a ragtag gang of adventurers all trying to catch the Snark, inspired by the poem by Lewis Carroll. Can a Snark be caught with soap? Will the Beaver keep out of the hungry Butcher’s way? Will the Baker remember his name? Does anyone even know what a Snark actually looks like?
Inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem, The Hunting of the Snark bursts forth as a frolicking good time musical, though knowledge of the poem is in no way a necessary precursor to the enjoyment of the energetic dynamic cast of clowns (not literal clowns, best to clarify, it is a Fringe after all). As we enter the Igloo which houses this compact production with a punch, we are already greeted by characters from the show, welcoming us with high fives and talk of Snark snaring techniques. We start off with a slam bang introductory song which gives us all the exposition necessary to follow the campy tale of the alleged, elusive Snark as well as a cast of colorful characters, all portrayed by five high energy actors with some pretty significant vocal chops. The small stage is extremely well utilized, incorporating some clever direction, including a couple of brilliantly timed slow motion sequences, supporting a diverse set and a fairly sizable cast given the small playing space. This is a show clearly set for touring.
The plot is deceptively simple, rich banker/absentee father wants to make more money with the capture of the elusive Snark, botanist/Snark enthusiast wants to be the first one to capture this creature of legend. But there is a deeper story below the surface, that of a father and son who need to connect. We’re given just a smattering of their backstory with a song called Money, where our wealthy banker regales the joys of money to which his son asks, “Can it bring Mum back?” Suddenly we are aware the stakes are perhaps a little higher than we expected.
There is an infectious sense of silliness and audience interaction, a fairly constant breaking of the fourth wall and action which moves off the stage squarely into the laps of the adoring audience. With original music by Gareth Cooper and the brilliant use of a single guitar whose woebegone owner Steve becomes part of the action and the butt of many a joke, the music is surprisingly complex and beautifully arranged including some very clever lyrics particularly in my favorite song, Not Good Enough, with a knock out performance by the absolutely brilliant comedienne Polly Smith. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the wonderful incorporation of everyone’s favorite character, and supremely adorable puppet, the Beaver whose clever hand off from cast member to cast member really brought him alive.
Though this is a classic story, Alice House Theatre & RG Media have put a decidedly contemporary spin including cultural and rap references, apps and cellphones, and even a few very Edinburgh specific asides. It’s a bit Harry Potter meets Jurassic Park, hmm Jurassic Potter, there’s a show in that.
As you might expect there is a healthy sprinkling of gross out humor, some big, over-the-top acting and the action goes a bit off the rails as we head into the station but this was a hand clapping, foot stomping hour of ridiculousness and I loved it.