May 8 – 12
Ah, Lewis Carroll. What was that guy on again? Laudanum? Or pure unadulterated genius? In any case, the comically armed rebels of The Playground Collective have come together in the face of comedic adversary to bring an hour and a quarter of hilarity to our pitiful, dull-skied Wellington lives. And bring it they did, in the form of The Hunting of the Snark. I thought the man next to me was going to have a seizure at one point from laughing so hard. I may have a slight inclination towards hyperbole but, in all honesty, I haven’t laughed so much at Bats since Jo Randerson’s Skazzle Dazzle. Hilarious.
An alliteratively named rag-tag band of Eurotrash (the Butcher, Bellman, Bonnet Maker, Beaver, etc.) have made their way to a deserted island, in an obtuse quest to find a Snark. The publicity material for the play states that the collective interpret the Snark as the quest for meaning itself, yet I couldn’t help but be reminded of the colonial enterprise.
The play jumps and dives into utter absurdity, but manages to keep the audience enthralled from start to finish. There are monster puppets. There is a crrrazy drug-mixing induced trip. There is lycra. There is rhyming. And self-referential, frame-breaking post-modernism. There are terrible puns. There is a dead inflatable pig. Best of all, The Hunting of the Snark reminds us that in the unlikeliest places – algebra – love is found (and the sincerest of musical numbers). Permit me to quote:
“You’ve lost your accent! What happened?!”
“I dunno…well, we were doin’ some maths and then we fell in love… and I guess that’s just the power of numbers.”
And yet amongst the raucous laughter and the fantastical costumes and the notably solid lighting, Snark achieves moving depths of pathos (delicately juggled with bathos), particularly in the tragic figure of the Baker.
I don’t want to overdo it but good Lord, this is funny stuff. I am genuinely excited for whatever the collective may choose to grace us with next.
You may have paid for your whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge of it. To make a slightly tenuous analogy, this is everything Coldplay should have been but wasn’t: Chris Martin & Co. have a piano, they have a sing-song, but they ain’t got no laffs. Rather, The Hunting of the Snark is the Sonic Youth of tomorrow’s theatre. Today.