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Hunting trouble in Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre’s “Bar Kapra the Squirrel Hunter”

Fables often use nature and magical settings to tell simple moral stories. The play, “Bar Kapra the Squirrel Hunter”, is a delightful tale of hunting, revenge, loyalty, and forgiveness. It explores how the meaning of relationship can be bigger than the individual’s needs.

This charming play tells the story of a squirrel hunter named Bar Kapra (Chip Chuipka) who takes great pride in his job of reducing the population of squirrels in the forest. He is assisted by his long-suffering partner, Bat Kapra (France Rolland), who is concerned that Bar is deliberately sparing some squirrels so as to not finish the job too soon. During a quarrel, Bat is injured. However, Bar mistakenly believes Bat to be dead and flees into the woods. A third member of the hunting party, a young girl named Trout (Jennifer Roberts), finds Bat and nurses her to health using herbs and the magical tears from a tree.

Trout can sense sounds and smells in colours (a condition called Synesthesia). She describes the natural world in unique and, at times, bewildering terms. She is innocent, honest, and loyal. When Bat declares her plan for revenge, Trout agrees to help. But she does not see the worst intentions in her friends. She wants reconciliation between Bar and Bat.

Bar Kapra- C Chuipka, photo by Jeremy Bobrow

Mr. Chuipka is wonderfully brash and hardy as the proud Bar. Ms. Rolland is marvellously authentic as the angry, vengeful Bat. Ms. Roberts brings naïve sweetness to Trout. The cast give the script a rhythm that is kinetic and fluid. The pace and energy never lags. The verbal sparring between the characters is funny and occasionally infuriating. But it’s never boring.

The set design uses multimedia to bring the images, sounds, and smells of the forest that bring the audience into the characters’ world. It gives a sense of peace and isolation. It is also an intimate setting as the actors move around the audience, travelling from scene to scene. However, the focus on the characters is never lost or misguided. The costumes are wonderfully rag-tag. The lighting also reflects Trout’s condition as her perspective is awash in bold and primary colours.

This story is simultaneously light and profound; funny and dark; magical and rough. It brings a message of forgiveness and friendship within a world of wonder.

‘Bar Kapra the Squirrel Hunter’: Presented by Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre. Directed by Andreas Apergis. Written by Joseph Shragge.

Show continues to March 13, 2016 at Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire, 4750 Henri-Julien.

Tickets $20 to $26. Call 514-873-4031 ext. 313 or go to www.admission.com

Bar Kapra- J. Roberts in forest, photo by David Oppenheim

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