Vancouver Fringe 2019: The Trophy Hunt

The casting of a woman, Sandra Ferens as Jan, the hunting guide, might help to make the character more sympathetic in this production.

Canadian playwright Trina Davies’s The Trophy Hunt feels like an overly deliberate writing exercise in which she plays three variations on the theme of African big-game hunting. (Why Africa? Why not the Canadian North, which would bring things closer to home?)

In the first variation, a hunter, who slaughtered a protected lion then paid a social-media and legal price for it, moans about how persecuted he feels. Poor baby. Who cares?

In the second, a hunting guide tries to distance herself morally from her clients, whom she regards as assholes. But she’s enabling them so that she can make 75K per hunt, so … Poor baby.

The identity of the third speaker is a mystery at first, which makes the final section the most satisfying in terms of the writing.

The acting in this production is mixed. Playing Parker, the media-shamed lion killer, Michael Karl Richards brings a load of sincerity but no edge. In a grounded performance, Sandra Ferens makes Jan, the guide, about as sympathetic as she can get. And Lissa Neptuno is sly as the third character, a self-consciously exotic local named Soraya, although, for some self-defeating reason, director Shelby Bushell has Soraya strike yoga poses throughout the violent climax of her speech.

Overall, the pace that Bushell sets is slack, and that’s not just because this is an ambulatory performance (the audience walks from site to site along the shoreline of False Creek); the pace within monologues also drags.

A fourth character, a tour guide (played gamely by Ariel Slack) doesn’t fit: whereas all of the other characters are serious in one way or another, the guide is broadly comic.

This production is okay, but the script is wonky and gives little indication that the playwright is passionately engaged with her material.

In Ron Basford Park. Remaining performances on September 10 (6:30 p.m.), 11 (6:30 p.m.), 12 (6:30 p.m.), 13 (6:30 p.m.), 14 (6:30 p.m.), and 15 (6:30 p.m.)


About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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