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Hunting and Gathering at Primary Stages

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Hunting and Gathering
By Brooke Berman

Primary Stages
59 East 59th Street

Casey Childs: Exec. Producer
Andrew Leynse: Artistic Director

Michael Chernus, Mamie Gummer
Keira Naughton, Jeremy Shamos

Director: Leigh Silverman
Set Design: David Korins
Costume Design: Miranda Hoffman
Lighting Design: Ben Stanton
Original Music and Sound Design: Robert Kaplowitz
Production Stage Manager: Kate Hefel
Production Supervisor: PRF Productions
Casting: Stephanie Klapper Casting
Press: O&M Co.
Director of Development: Erica Raven
Director of Marketing: Shanta Mali
Associate Artistic Director: Michelle Bossy

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 31, 2008

Hunting and Gathering is like surfing Craigslist or New York Magazine, ninety minutes of sound-bites, transient thoughts, cool ideas, the hint of sex, money, good shoes, and, wait, haven’t we seen this on HBO, Sex and the City? Brooke Berman has created a four-actor ensemble play, where the actors appear and re-appear in skits, never switch roles, but relate to each other and to their own psyches with forced bravado, vulnerability, fleeting eroticism, and an obsession with cell phones and the elusive new “crash pad”. Be it Howard Johnson’s Hotel, a friend’s house-sit offer, an invitation for a one-or-more night stand, or just a hot ad on the internet, these 20-somethings are accruing miles on the treadmill of apartment hunting, gathering “homes”, and gathering strength. In fact, the hunting and gathering metaphor of predators and prey comes into play in the acquisition of apartments, of lovers, of boxes of “stuff”, and of personal fortitude, in the City that never sleeps.

Keira Naughton (James Naughton’s daughter), as Ruth, is fraught with feelings of rejection, having been tossed by her professor, Jesse (Jeremy Shamos), when his divorce came through. She crashes with Jesse, later with his brother, Astor (Michael Chernus), who conveniently has a large moving van that he “acquired”, and then perhaps with Jesse again, or perhaps not. Bess (Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streep’s daughter) teaches Ruth how to use a shooting gallery rifle and feel predatory power and psychological confidence, as a woman in a predatory urban environment. Ms. Naughton and Ms. Gummer are both persuasive, engaging actors, but the rapid sound bites did not reveal the depth of character they might have demonstrated. In contrast, the characters of Jesse and Astor seemed to unfold more fully, and, in fact, Astor seemed too well formed, redundantly soliloquizing about his Buddhism and his emotional vacuum.

David Korins’ set, of stage-high moving cartons and the occasional soft sofa, was one of the highpoints of this production, as it was so fascinating and filled with technological effects and slide shows. Ben Stanton’s lighting added interesting devices, signs, and scene shifts. For more information on current and upcoming Primary Stages productions, click here.

(L to R) Keira Naughton, Michael Chernus, Mamie Gummer and Jeremy Shamos
in "Hunting and Gathering" by Brooke Berman.
Photo credit: James Leynse.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at