“Hunter Gatherers” marks sketch comedy troupe Killing My Lobster’s first full-length play in its nine years of existence.
Why on earth has it waited so long?
The world-premiere work of playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, a familiar face to Killing My Lobster having worked as a writer, director and performer for the troupe, screams of phenomenal talent.
Finally, a new voice that’s previously only whispered throughout San Francisco’s routine theater scene is now yelling.
And we are listening. Please, tell us more.
A thorough investigation of the tension upon which life is built, “Hunter Gatherers” begins as nothing more than a hilarious study of theoft-zany interpersonal dynamics that dominate friendships and relationships.
Pam, Richard, Tom and Wendy are friends who reunite annually, despite only living within 45 minutes of one another, for a raucous dinner party that temporarily satiates their respective deep-seeded hunger, but sooner than later, leaves them starved until the next one.
This year, however, things stand to be different, when what used to only be insinuated is dragged out into the open and called out. Akin to a highly dysfunctional game of “Clue,” everything is fair game, be it sexual tension, jealousy or longing.
But unlike the countless films and plays that have explored such themes to death, Nachtreib’s show delivers a fulfilling payoff; the kind we for which we all hunger, but might not ever enjoy.
A superb satire from which an incredibly unique brand of humor and rhythm emerges, so does an ensemble of charismatic characters, who, for all their over-the-top quirks, manage unnerving humanity.
Of course, Nachtrieb’s beautiful script is made so by an exorbitantly talented cast of actors, which are clearly tuned into their respective roles played with absorbing velocity.
Plucked from KML’s core members, Jon Wolanske is jaw-dropping as the primordial Richard, Melanie Case delights as the effervescent Pam, Alexis Lezin as Wendy is sharp and flawless. And John Kovacevich, whose comparatively subdued character as the milquetoast Tom, competes with his larger-than-life counterparts beautifully.
The play’s second act is meant to continue to move at a more furious pace. Scenes end abruptly, without warning; clearly a device most likely meant to heighten the show’s already madcap pace, but doesn’t always work.
No matter, “Hunter Gatherers” is a stunning, human and wonderfully funny study of what happens when emotions and personal dynamics are stripped down to its most basic and raw.