National Public Radio just ran a story about gun clubs trying to attract women to hunting. All I have to say is that these men might want to think twice before arming an oppressed minority. At the very least they ought to go see Theatre On Fire’s cautionary EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR (@ Charlestown Working Theater through Oct. 26th).
When you think of revenge plays, you most likely recall the harrowing EXTREMITIES but EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR is decidedly a comedy, albeit one which addresses serious issues. Remember in CRIMES OF THE HEART when one of the sisters shoots her husband and then makes lemonade? Well, Lauren Gunderson writes in that vein to make EXIT’s righteous comeuppance sweet as honey.
The sticky stuff is how Nan plans to lure a bear to her trussed up husband, he having been beaned with a frying pan and secured with duct tape. THE WINTER’S TALE provides Gunderson with her title (and a character who will spirit Nan away after the deed is done). She even meets an accomplice theatrically: “Fate and William Shakespeare brought us together!” With a cry of “Let’s get classical,” they begin to reenact the abusive husband’s crimes.
Nan is a naïve creature who love rabbits and deer and chipmunks… and President Jimmy Carter. If she hadn’t married Kyle, she says she would be “saving animals.” Marrying Kyle, it turns out, was a colossally bad choice since he “kills things for fun.” And when he isn’t slaughtering wildlife, he’s beating Nan. Nobody is going to root for this guy.
Director Darren Evans and company keep the spirit of the piece light-hearted enough so that you’re amused but sardonic enough so that you get the message. The cast is a delight, from Mary-Liz Murray’s daft, empowered Nan to Samantha Evans’ off-the-wall reenactor/stripper to Cameron Beaty Gosselin’s stalwart BFF/protector to Tim Hoover’s dastardly hunter/husband.
Luke J. Sutherland’s macho set says it all, front to back, with critters mounted on high on one wall and a deadly arsenal on the other. Poor Nan didn’t have even one decoration of her own to speak of. “Love and justice” is all Nan wants. EXIT provides both niftily.