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2019 FESTIVAL OF INDEPENDENT THEATRES

Brad McEntire in&nbsp;<em>The Beast of Hyperborea</em>&nbsp;from Audacity Theatre Lab

FIT Review: The Beast of Hyperborea

A "ripping yarn" in the grand old tradition, from Brad McEntire of Audacity Theatre Lab.



published Sunday, July 21, 2019

Photo: Audacity Theatre Lab
Brad McEntire in The Beast of Hyperborea from Audacity Theatre Lab

DallasThe Beast of Hyperborea, presented by Audacity Theatre Lab, takes its inspiration from fantastical works by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard. Creator and performer Brad McEntire (the driving force behind this cutting-edge “theatre collective”) has put together a truly ripping yarn in classic Victorian style for his one-man entry in the Festival of Independent Theatres.

McEntire plays Edward Joseph Reed, a mild-mannered accountant and sole survivor of a doomed 1895 expedition to the mysterious isle of Hyperborea—fictitiously north of Scotland and south of the Arctic Circle—and home to the titular Beast. Presenting his tale as a sort of lecture to an unseen audience, Reed recounts how, after answering a newspaper advertisement seeking a bookkeeper, he was swept up into a series of ever-more dramatic and larger-than-life adventures.

All the characters are portrayed with dazzling nuance by McEntire: famed aeronaut Captain Saltwood; expert mountain climber and martial artist the Baron Fritt; and big-game hunter and all-around adventuress Marie Clemeneau. The daring crew, led by Saltwood, sets out to explore the mysterious and uncharted island where Saltwood’s comrade (and Marie’s father) met his end at the hands of the Beast, leaving behind him a journal detailing his discoveries. The trio of adventurers and the reluctant Reed begin to grow closer as they speed toward their destination, likening themselves to Dumas’ Musketeers. How tragic, then, that Reed alone survives the perilous journey and the violent confrontation with the Beast, and must shoulder the duty of presenting proof of the island’s (and the creature’s) existence.

On a simply lit stage with minimal set and sound design, McEntire commands the space and deftly avoids the common pitfalls of a one-man show. Each character he portrays is distinct without tipping into cartoonish excess. While his Reed is a quiet, self-effacing sort, ill-suited for adventures (as the Hobbits would say, “nasty, dirty, uncomfortable things—make you late for dinner”), Captain Saltwood is a bluff, squinting man’s man. Contrast them with the effete Baron (presented with a competent, if slightly obscure, Germanic accent) and the cool, daring Marie, who dispatches misogynists and monsters with equal élan. The audience was spellbound, reacting with gasps and laughter, and was a hairsbreadth away from outright cheering at an unexpected resurrection. (From the start we know all but one are doomed—but McEntire leaves room for surprise.)

The show’s final, silent moments, accompanied by a cleverly period-accurate slideshow, was unexpectedly poignant. Bravo to McEntire for bringing not only the thrills to his tall tale, but heart as well.

This one’s a “can’t miss” in my book.

 

» The Beast of Hyperborea is performed:

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, July 25
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, July 27
  • 5 p.m. Sunday, July 28
  • 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3

» The 21st annual Festival of Independent Theatres runs through Aug. 3, 2019 at The Bath House Cultural Center. For more information, visit www.festivalofindependenttheatres.org or call 1-800-617-6904.

To see a breakdown of the groups and shows, go here.

To see reviews and more coverage of FIT, see our special section here.

 

2019 FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

 

THURSDAY, JULY 25, 2019 (8 PM)

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

Bootstraps Comedy Theater – Nerve

 

FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019 (8 PM)

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

Leos Ensemble – small hours

 

FRIDAY JULY 26, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

Jodi Crawford Wright in Songs My Mama Taught Me

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (2 PM)

Leos Ensemble – small hours

Lily & Joan Theatre Company – Marilyn, Pursued by a Bear

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (5 PM)

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (8 PM)

The Very Good Dance Theatre – The 1st Annual Gay Show

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

 

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

Kathryn Taylor Rose in Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

 

SUNDAY, JULY 28, 2019 (2 PM)

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

 

SUNDAY, JULY 28, 2019 (5 PM)

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 2019 (8 PM)

Bootstraps Comedy Theater – Nerve

The Very Good Dance Theatre – The 1st Annual Gay Show

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019 (8 PM)

Lily & Joan Theatre Company – Marilyn, Pursued by a Bear

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019 (10 PM)

CABARET

Jodi Crawford Wright in Songs My Mama Taught Me

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019 (2 PM)

Imprint Theatreworks – Dirty Dirty Night Squirrel

Audacity Theatre Lab – The Beast of Hyperborea

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019 (5 PM)

Flexible Grey Theatre Company – Sky’s the Limit

Leos Ensemble – small hours

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019 (8 PM)

WingSpan Theatre, Co. – Jo & Louisa

Bootstraps Comedy Theater – Nerve

 Thanks For Reading




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FIT Review: The Beast of Hyperborea
A "ripping yarn" in the grand old tradition, from Brad McEntire of Audacity Theatre Lab.
by Jill Sweeney

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