The River – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Mystery swirls in the dark waters that conceal schools of silvery sea trout in the river. A fisherman’s paradise, they are a challenge to catch, especially if you refuse to cheat in the process by using a “monster munch,” a pickle and olive flavored lure which is tantamount to poaching. Sea trout move like a lightning bolt and are huge creatures, a delight to the purist fisherman to land.

Jez Butterworth has hooked a fascinating line in “The River” now being baited at Hartford TheaterWorks until Sunday, November 11. The play is set in an isolated cabin, accurately detailed by Brian Prather, where we first encounter The Man, Billy Carter, who lives and breathes his fascination for fish.

He definitely wants a female companion to share his love of the shiny and elusive creatures, a woman who will stand along side him in his river of dreams. Does such a woman exist? To add to the drama, these amazing beings can only be caught on one moonless night of the year, lucky for us, and this is the night.

Does The Man lure his female friends to his lair as carefully and systematically as he sets out to catch his sea trout? He clearly loves both pursuits, proclaiming affection for each, only destined to be disappointed if his “lures” don’t work. Andrea Goss and Jasmine Batchelor serve the story as the much desired ladies who ultimately disillusion him. In the process, The Man prepares a sea trout for tasty consumption. The fish, fortunately, lives up to its reputation. Rob Ruggiero directs this simple on the surface tale that has plenty of intrigue underneath its deep waters.

For tickets ($45-70), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

You don’t have to be an angler to get hooked on this poetic homage to the art of catching creatures, both animal and human.