The Hunt Is Nordic Noir That's Unafraid To Make You Uncomfortable

The Hunt, The Almeida ★★★★☆

The Hunt Is Nordic Noir That's Unafraid To Make You Uncomfortable The Hunt, The Almeida 4
Photo: Marc Brenner

The Hunt was a film that confronted head-on, some of the most difficult questions in society. Director Rupert Goold brings Thomas Vinterberg's acclaimed the 2012 Danish film to the Almeida. Goold's staging, which comes wrapped up in a suitably 'hygge' aesthetic, depicts a small-town community as tight-knit as a woollen fair-isle jumper unraveled by a child's accusation.

Tobias Menzies — playing the Mads Mikkelsen role — remains wrenchingly sympathetic throughout as Lucas, the schoolteacher accused of an unspeakable act. However several other characters' unquestioning acceptance of the child's story strains credibility.

Photo: Marc Brenner

Evie Gurney's superb costumes capture and contrast an authentically Scandinavian style against Es Devlin's mostly stark neon strip-lighted set. It embodies the encroachment of modern technology on this cosy little world, where children too young to wipe their own bottoms have easy access to pornography on their smartphones.

Slow-building dramatic tension is bolstered by some terrific acting, particularly from the child and dog actors, who are more than a match for Menzies' commanding lead performance.

The true thematic strength of the play lies in its interrogation of traditional masculinity, encapsulated by the friendship of Lucas and Theo (who also happens to be the father of the child in question). The menfolk of the town's preoccupation with beer, banter, guns and ice-swimming suggests an almost bestial vision of manhood, with dark, ritualistic undercurrents. It's this element of Goold's production that best evokes the hunt of the title.

The Hunt, Almeida Theatre, Alemida Street, N1 4TA, £10-£42.50. Until 3 August

Last Updated 27 June 2019