In theater, like anything else, first impressions go a long way. I have never seen a Right Brain Project production, but I know they have worked with talented people in the past. In “My Filthy Hunt,” written by Philip Stokes, and directed by Nathan Robbel, this is no exception. The show features Erin Orr, Bries Vannon, Emma Peterson, and Greg Wenz.
The Right Brain performs out of a black box studio on the 4th floor of an old industrial building on Irving Park and Ravenswood. The Mammals also occupy this space, so I was expecting low hanging pipes, makeshift bathrooms, and underground, challenging theater. I was right on most accounts.
Upon entering, I was directed into the 80 year old one person elevator and told to take myself to the 4th floor. If you are doing a show called “My Filthy Hunt,” that’s a good way to set the mood: place your audience in harm’s way right from the get-go.
Upon entering their space I was surprised and pleased with the set up. A small space, they have made in hospitable and interesting. They have comfortable seating, art hanging from the walls and ceiling, and $2 PBR and wine don’t hurt, either.
The space itself is a shoebox, but that is what an actor craves: no bells and whistles, just human beings telling stories, and that is what “My Filthy Hunt” is. It is the story of 4 very different, flawed, and haunted people, all connected to one man, Marvin (who never appears onstage), who picks them up at their lowest points, and touches them in a profound way.
The actors play multiple characters as they speak of their pasts and what horrors and painful episodes they’ve experienced. Moving from nasty childhood bullies, to violent or absent parents, to suburban busybodies, the actors do a great job of creating the backdrop for each character’s life story. Their only saving grace is Marvin’s kindness and honesty, but when a turn of events brings the 4 together, they are forced to deal with each other and themselves, and what has happened to the man they care about most.
This was the kind of theater I dig because it was unconventional, challenging for the performer and audience, and fast. The performance came in under an hour, and asked the actors to push themselves emotionally and physically. Pushing each other’s buttons, tossing each other into walls, and screaming at each other ( which I usually hate, but that’s because most of the time there’s nothing behind it) turned to embraces, affection and moments of encouragement.
I want to see theater that reaches me, but doesn’t try to trick me. In a difficult script, with little more than a coat rack onstage, there leaves little to hide behind. RBP has done a good job in creating a production that lets the actor be honest, and doesn’t placate the audience.
If you like off-beat, challenging theater, check out this show.