Friday, November 13, 2009

Wolves at the Window

Cleverly constructed and gracefully directed, this devilish evening of theater is as enchanting as it is eerie, with many laughs, brilliant acting, and a number of effective goosebump moments. It, just like its source material – ten stories by H. H. Munro, better known as Saki – could have come from nowhere but Britain. "I suppose," says the con artist in the opening skit, "you think I've spun you quite the impossible yarn." But Saki isn't pulling the wool over our eyes. He's exposing bloody nature. "I've heard it said," declares a city gentleman, "that the Wood Gods are rather horrible to those who molest them." Indeed. A malevolent core hums at the center of everything, taking on various guises: petty human deceit, real wild animals – or a vengeful Pan, jealously guarding the tribute left for him. Pan's appeaser is a gentleman who has taken a holiday in the country reluctantly, but adjusted rather more successfully to pagan ways than his jittery wife. And always there are the wolves of the title, baying and howling in the background, advancing in literal fashion into more than one story, turning the haughty, hunting homo sapiens into the hunted. Saki meant to skewer Edwardian manners and mores. But when it comes to the human animal, things change very little, whatever century you're in or continent you're on. Part of the "Brits Off Broadway" series at 59E59 Theaters. Read the full review.

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