Hidebound at In the Heart of the Beast

Bruce Silcox


1500 E. Lake St., Minneapolis 612.721.2535;
through Sunday

It's not easy to deconstruct Erik Ehn's Hidebound. The piece is only one part of the playwright's 17 plays on the theme of genocide. Hidebound doesn't come with a linear narrative, instead building on themes of oppression and violence through repeated motifs. Oh, and as the venue indicates, it's a puppet show, one with plenty of sharp, angry edges created by director Alison Heimstead and a quartet of puppeteers. The play follows centuries of murder, oppression, biological warfare, and exploitation, using a conquistador and four henchman, called the barbecue eaters, as the primary way to explore these themes. Again, don't go looking for a narrative here. Ehn's elliptical script provides context, with the action brought to life mainly through the work of the puppeteers, whether they are violently destroying a tiny model village or wrapping the stage, and themselves, in plastic wrap. The string of striking images that makes up the short one-act piece is the real takeaway here. The play's context needs to be fully explored outside of the theater (or started in the nightly after-show discussions), but the immediate visceral impact remains.