Staircase Theatre Society presents a production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s Hunters Gatherers
Staircase Theatre Society presents a production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s Hunters Gatherers

Mention Hunter Gatherers and it will usually conjure up images of African nomads foraging for wild animals and plants along the Serengeti to survive, but in Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s play, it is definitely more attuned to our ancestors taking down a woolly mammoth some 200,000 years ago.

[pullquote]“Ultimately I think the playwright is asking whether all of our behavior is controlled by instinct or are we fooling ourselves into thinking that we are anything more than that?” – director Ryan Gladstone[/pullquote]“It takes place in the world of civilization, but there definitely undercurrents of the caveman,” laughs director Ryan Gladstone. “It is about humans pretending that they are not just animals.  It starts as a dinner party play with two married couples who have known each other for many years and it devolves into total chaos with sex, violence and eating an animal carcass on the floor.”

It is in that progression from polite dinner party to base animal instincts that Gladstone found most intriguing about Hunter Gatherers.

“It begins like a Noel Coward dinner party play with some great characters, and then there is this next level with a very dark underbelly where all these people have deep secrets that they’ve been hiding for 17 years, and finally it just all comes apart into that chaos.”

One of the funnier scripts he has read in a long time, Gladstone says that it was the perfect mix of really funny and really dark material that he found compelling and that will keep an audience on its toes.

“The one thing I really liked about it was the way in which it is constructed.  You don’t necessarily know what that type of play it is going to be,” he says.  “Is it going to be a really funny living room comedy? And it does that really well, but then there are all these dark secrets that they are hiding from each other and it executes that really well too.  The play keeps breaking through these layers of expectations.”

And while some of it will no doubt be shocking to an audience, Gladstone insists that it is not shock for the sake of shock.

“Ultimately I think the playwright is asking whether all of our behavior is controlled by instinct or are we fooling ourselves into thinking that we are anything more than that?” concludes Gladstone, a self-confessed hunter.

Hunter Gatherers plays the Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Dr) October 30 – November 15.  Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets.  Visit http://staircasetheatre.com for more information.