The Hunter and The Bear


A World Premiere.

A New Musical Folktale.

Written by Pigpen Theatre Co.

Directed by Stuart Carden & Pigpen Theatre Co.

At Writers Theatre, Glencoe.

The fabulous Pigpen Theatre ensemble is back at Writers with a new musical folktale as a ghost story.

The guys are back. after seeing their first show at Writers Theatre in September of 2013, The Old Man and the Old Moon, I declared that show was one of the best to hit Chicago in years! Well, they’re back with a new show that is another one of the ‘best shows of the year’ – The Hunter and The Bear.

In this world premiere, Alex Falberg (Prescott), Ben Ferguson (Tobias), Curtis Gillen (Pete), Ryan Melia (Elliot), Matt Nuemberger (Bailey), Arya Shahi (John) and Dan Weschler (Lewis) have created an  engrossing folk storytelling rich with authentic folk music and underscoring that is a haunting ghost story. Set in 19th Century Pacific Northwest forest, this mythological ghost story told with amazing resourceful stage craft that creates with smart lighting and foley art type sounds that sends us into the eerie dark forests peopled by animal and human ghosts remnants from a large forest fire. Besides the terrific musicianship and fine harmonies from the seven players/composers, their use of ingenious shadow puppetry and a life-size puppet enchant us as we wonder through the dark forest with them on their journey.

The story, part fable, part frontier ghost story and parable, takes us from a  campfire to wondering through the woods as the group fears a bear attack. When Tobias, the pragmatic hunter, decides to protect  the community from the bear,  he ventures into the woods in search. His imaginative son Elliot, who loves storytelling, wonders out into the forest to aid his father, he disappears.

When his father (Tobias) and eventually the entire community search the woods, dark secrets and supernatural threats emerge. These plot twists are imaginative, well staged and haunting. We care about young Elliott, his father Tobias and the strange Lewis who becomes a shaman-like figure with possible solutions to Elliot’s fate. I’ll not say more so as not to spoil the story. The seven member cast work together like a fine-tuned machine as each have their moments to excel.

The Hunter and The Bear is a engrossing work of complexly ingenious folk, mythological storytelling enriched by terrific folk music and smart staging.  It holds us on the edge of our seats through the 100 minute action. This is old fashion folk storytelling that has sustained many a group around a campfire  for hundreds of years. This is a most creative and well-executed work that is a family-friendly show ripe for the holidays.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: December 14, 2016.

Jeff Recommended.

For more info checkout the The Hunter and The Bear page at theatreinchicago.com.

At Writers Theatre, 325 Tutor Court, Glencoe, IL, call 847-242-6000, www.writerstheatre.org, tickets $35 – $80, Tuesdays – Fridays at 7:30  pm, 3 pm matinees on December 12 & January 18, 2017, Saturdays at 3 pm, and 7:30 (except got holidays), Sundays at 2 & 6 pm (except holidays), running time is 1 hour, 40 minutes without intermission, through January 22, 2017.

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