Up a tree

Bar Kapra The Squirrel Hunter is a touching fable

By Byron Toben

Joseph Shragge, frequent collaborator with the Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre has struck again with another fable… or parable, I’m not sure which and leave it to the English majors who frequent these parts to sort out.

This show appeared at last summer’s Fringe as a work in progress. At the time, I thought it was finished enough. Having just seen the re-worked version, I was wrong even though the text seems to me the same. The polished imagery and stage movement added by director Andreas Apergis elevates the production to a higher level.

The Fringe version featured three hard to beat locals, but the new version tops them. Chip Chuipka plays the title character Bar Kapra, a Squirrel Hunter. France Rolland returns from the Fringe version as Bat Kapra, who may or may not be his wife or sister. Unusual names continue with their young protégé/assistant Trout (Jennifer Roberts).

The Fringe version featured three hard to beat locals, but the new version tops them.

The woodsy landscape, inspired by our own Mont Royal, contains a blue forest, a weeping tree and a snowy hilltop.

In print, the plot may sound silly, but on stage, it works. Bar is paid to shoot squirrels (not clear if they are pests or a food supply). Bat gathers them and Trout disposes of them. Bar, quarrelling with Bat over his shooting methods, shoots her and flees.

Bar Kapra, J Roberts, F RollandJust wounded, she is nursed back to health, plotting revenge. Eager to please Trout gets caught in the middle.

Some pratfalls punctuate the serious talk about love, revenge, misunderstandings and forgiveness, all aided and abetted by plant based poultices.

So, was this a fable or a parable? The first reader to send in a good explanation will win, courtesy of the writer, a bowl of nuts, and as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, a fine Guinness to wash them down.

Images: Jeremy Bobrow

Bar Kapra the Squirrel Hunter continues until March 13
at the Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire, 4750 Henri-Julien
Tickets: 514 873-4031 ext. 313

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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