Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Wendigo

The killer first line of Eric Sander's adaptation of The Wendigo establishes that it will be more streamlined than Algernon Blackwood's original 1910 short: "Our hunting party brought back no moose that year." Matthew Hancock's direction ensures that it will be smoother, for while his cast has accents, they're not exaggerated (saving us from accidental comedy). But despite all the slashing, the production isn't a killer, mainly because despite a terrific cast (led by Nick Merritt's smooth transitions from "ominous narrator" to "excited novice hunter"), the aesthetics fail to capture the mood. Based on M. L. Dogg's music and Erik Gratton's deep voice, this sort of Blair Wendigo Project, in which the evil is never really seen, might have been better suited for radio. Still, Brian Tovar's lighting does the best it can--pinpoints piercing the blackness--and for all that Nicholas Vaughan's set is a minimalist rendering of black poles as dead trees, there's plenty of lively worrying done on stage. More action would've gone a long way, but I won't penalize the Vagabond Theater Company for being true to the adaptation; in fact, I look forward to seeing what they'll do next.

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