The moon and stars have disappeared and a panther is on the loose, threatening the lives of animals and humans. Lion House tell the story of Barri and Sam, young adults who set out through the monster-infested wilderness in order to make some money – and maybe find out where the big cat came from. Every Wild Beast is both humorous and poignant, but suffers from a surfeit of exposition.
The tale is fantastical, containing elements of folklore and mythology, and could be read as a simple allegory about fear and hope. It raises some interesting ideas about fear, but these are explained rather than developed within the plot itself, as are the personal journeys of Barri and Sam working to overcome their fears. Between the narrator’s frequent interjections to explain events and provide details, and the scenes where Barri and Sam tell each other their back stories, the show feels somewhat exposition and narration heavy.
The performance space, located in a small room in what is more or less the attic of C Nova, is appropriately made to look like the messy attic room where Barri has been tracking the strange events with newspaper clippings. Objects from the attic seamlessly became part of a scene in a farmhouse, but little time is actually spent indoors, and this homely style is somewhat in conflict with the terror of the wilderness.
The cast do their own tech throughout the show, which is basic but effective. Music is played on a record player in Barri’s attic and from a music box, while light is filtered through a glass bottle. In addition the sound of running water comes from a real fountain. Incense provides smoke and adds to the atmosphere, and is a good reminder that hearing and sight aren’t the only senses theatre can appeal to.
More action and less narration would have made for a more dramatic play, but Every Wild Beast has no difficulty holding the audience’s attention. It is well acted, moving, funny, and contains plenty of food for thought.