Theater Review: Fear and fun at hunting camp
By Jim Lowe
Staff Writer | November 13,2012
Staff file photo
Deer camp erodes with beer-drinking and discussion of family dynamics and women in a scene from Thomas Blachly’s “Return of the Moose.” From left are Russ Brown, Wally Malley and Vince Broderick.
PLAINFIELD — Only a Vermont play could involve four armed men — and nobody gets killed.
Plainfield Little Theatre opened the world premiere production of Tom Blachly’s ribald farce “The Return of the Moose” this weekend at Goddard College’s Haybarn Theatre.
Four Vermont “good old boys” arrive at Red’s rustic camp in the remote woods for a weekend of beer, card games and, of course, deer hunting. Seems perfect, but, one by one, unexpected events detract from the wonderful camaraderie of hunting camp.
First, the fifth in the party hasn’t appeared yet. Then, there seem to be serious problems between Hal and his son; in fact, Hal is downright abusive toward Junior. Finally, the neurotic Frenchy worries about a giant moose that scared him the previous year — though none of the others saw it.
But, a giant moose actually appears in front of their door, unwilling to move away, despite their wild gesticulations. Afraid to confront the huge animal, they are trapped inside the cabin — and they begin to unravel. It’s not pretty, but it is funny.
When the truth behind the mystery is finally revealed, it’s totally unexpected — and hilarious.
Plainfield Little Theatre is to be lauded as a community theater for producing original work, especially of this high level. Blachly, who also directed, couldn’t have asked for a more authentic cast.
At Sunday’s performance, Ron Lay-Sleeper was the very real Red, the backbone of the crew, who wasn’t disturbed by much — except someone damaging his cabin in an escape attempt. Wally Mally was hilarious as the neurotic Frenchy, who was eventually afraid of his own shadow. Drew Sy was just so Vermont as the mysteriously missing Dix.
Russ Brown was the ever-angry Hal, the typical pushy type, and his son could never be good enough. Vince Broderick, though a bit loud, was quite convincing as Junior. In fact, if all of them were to tone their performances down a tad bit, it would be even funnier.
The play itself was engaging and funny, but would benefit from some cuts. Blachly wants to explain everything, often more than necessary. The ending is a bit drawn out, becoming almost anticlimactic. Perhaps if it ended with the radio announcement?
The production was given an authentic feel by Joe John’s realistic set and Blachly’s dramatic lighting.
Finally, Blachly’s “Return of the Moose” is great fun — especially for Vermonters.