Jennifer Joplin as Virginie & Jim Hopkins as Jean. Photo by Dan R. Winters Photography.

THE MAN-BEAST presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati through Nov. 10. Click here for a synopsis and more information on the production. I attended the opening weekend Sunday matinee performance.

Know Theatre of Cincinnati continues its 21st Season, FEAR ITSELF, with a new drama based on the 18th Century legend of the Beast of Gévaudan. Previously produced works  at Know by the playwright Joseph Zettelmaier include All Childish Things (2015) and Pulp (2016).


Jim Hopkins as Jean & Jennifer Joplin as Virginie. Photo by Dan R. Winters Photography.

Many thanks to director Brant Russell for bringing together what may now be my new favorite on stage couple: Jim Hopkins and Jennifer Joplin. Together the pair are electric to watch as Jean and Virginie, a mismatched pair of social outsiders that find companionship and more in each other’s company. Despite their physical differences, Joplin’s character is every bit the equal to Hopkins’ Jean. Their performance styles are very compatible and their chemistry so natural that I almost forgot it was a monster tale. One small complaint would be that I did lose the dialogue a couple of times when Hopkins’ character bellowed quickly.

This intimate and engaging show works well in the Underground space. Russell makes great use of the play area and elicits great character work from the two actors. Every moment rings authentic and I found myself rooting for the unlikely couple. The choreography by fight director Jonn Baca gives the show a great physicality and is very convincing; no small feat considering how close the audience is to the action.


Jim Hopkins as Jean & Jennifer Joplin as Virginie. Photo by Dan R. Winters Photography.

The set design by Andrew J. Hungerford is perhaps the most ambitious to date downstairs. I loved the weight of it with all the dark wood and stone. It was fun to see Jean constantly bump into items hung for the convenience of the much shorter Viriginie. The lighting design (also by Hungerford) and sound design by Doug Borntrager only enhances the atmosphere of the piece. I was also very pleased with the taxidermy designed by Mara Tunnicliff. Great to see items so essential to the plot executed so well.

Picky picky: When so much work is done to set the mood and period it was disappointing to see (and hear) the caster wheels used on one of the pieces. It was also mentioned to me that from some seats the lighting instruments were visible within the fireplace. It was such a great effect from my seat that I would hope every audience member would have the same experience.


Jennifer Joplin as Virginie & Jim Hopkins as Jean. Photo by Dan R. Winters Photography.

Overall, an engrossing tale, smartly written and directed only enhanced by the wonderful performances of the two leads. A perfect tale for the season without the gore or body count.

My rating: 4.75 out of 5.

I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.


Filed under Reviews

2 responses to “THE MAN-BEAST Review

  1. Greg Schaper

    Nice review. I felt pretty much the same.


  2. Ronald Mueller

    I definitely agree with everything you said here. I was mesmerized by the intensity of the action in this show. We sat in the first row center and I have to declare these two actors the best of the year of all the shows we have gone to with Ft. Thomas Village Players production of the “Last Days of Judas Iscariot” a close tie! I became a part of the show when the gunshot went off twice at the end and I think my sudden shout made the people around me think I had a heart attack. It was so real and unexpected! Cincinnati, you will usually see a great performance at the Know Theater.
    “Mercury” was another winner this season!


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