Goodbye Sun and Bear

Fri 2nd – Sat 17th August 2013

reviews

Amber Segal

at 17:22 on 6th Aug 2013

1agrees

0disagrees

As if Angela Carter, queen of magic realism, had written ‘Where’s My Teddy?’, ‘Goodbye Sun and Bear’ by the Bare Project takes the audience on an unexpected journey through the snow. Since Jez Alborough’s childhood classic, the premise of ‘boy loses bear’ was always going to be a winner, but the whole team behind this production brought something truly dark and different to the tale.

To the sound of an acoustic guitar, the huge puppet bear sits, or rather floats, centre stage. Her head is a suspended by two of the cast, her paws lay at either side and the rest is up to your imagination. The bear’s movements are consistent despite the cast members swapping over, and her permanently sad eyes somehow show human expression. The craft involved in this show is breath-taking from the beautifully crafted papier-mâché starlings to the character of Ratto and the four boxes that make up the entire set.

Upon entering, we are greeted by a bottle of bubble mixture and the instruction to ‘help create a snow-storm’. This is fantastically effective, as the bubbles begin to fill the stage. While this could be a sign of the saccharine, the play never gives in to schmaltz. Only the Doctors, played by Alice Ordish and Anna Read, slightly overdo the warmth in their final scene. Otherwise, the performance combines the harsh and the beautiful with a Narnia-like cold so convincing I had to put my jumper on halfway through.

The tone could be a problem for the show, as the target audience seems to hover somewhere between children and the more mature, never quite landing on either side. We are told to stamp our feet and shout in the introduction but some of the speeches delivered by Josh Finan as the blue-faced Grizzly are truly disturbing. Likewise, the relationship between Luka’s parents’ Teddy (Dominic Chorfield) and Klara (Katherine Farquhar) involves adult themes that are skilfully portrayed by both actors. The circus backdrop does partially account for this blend of the disconcerting and lighter entertainment.

The flowing and unusual script leaves nobody one dimensional. Sarah Sharps’ Luka has a perfectly child-like intonation while the character’s acceptance of Slip/Eidah (Sian Baxter) is truly touching. Baxter’s portrayal of the unexplained woman is hilarious and brilliantly weird.

I know one isn’t supposed to find faults in a five-star review, and the show was by no means perfect, but ‘Goodbye and Sun and Bear’ is so incredibly moving, stylishly constructed and imaginative that it fully deserves the rating. I had shivers as Klara began the closing refrain and left the theatre with more than a few tears in my eyes.

agree
disagree

Eliza Plowden

at 08:32 on 7th Aug 2013

2agrees

0disagrees

Everything about ‘Goodbye Sun and Bear’ is charming. You enter the venue to a melancholy tune played live by an acoustic guitar and sit down to find bottles of bubbles on your seat with notes attached: “Help us create a snowstorm”. With each seamless scene change, the ground is subtly covered with white paper and ribbons, whilst the audience continually blows bubbles over the cast. Given that the two ‘doctors’ seem to strip off their clothes with their increasing hypothermia, claiming that they are warmed by happy thoughts, it is perhaps easy to understand the need to reinforce the wintry setting.

With such a wide range of characters, I would have expected some to be more convincing than others; however, the acting is consistently of a high standard. The young Luka’s innocence is flawlessly conveyed, with the actress capturing the character’s endearing mannerisms throughout, without ever overstepping the mark. Similarly, the Slip/Ida balance was skilfully maintained, with the seamless switching between the two polarised personas providing constant entertainment. This may sound confusing, and it certainly puzzled me at first, but you have to see it for yourself to appreciate the comedic value of the double-role.

One of the lovely things about ‘Goodbye Sun and Bear’ is the constant juxtaposition of the serious, the light-hearted and the more eccentric aspects of the play: people are freezing to death, yet the two doctors are able to revive them by reminiscing about summers of their youth. The pace shifts in this way throughout the performance, keeping the audience forever on their toes. One minute we are clapping our hands and stamping our feet in appreciation of the circus; the next, we witness the characters’ extreme distress at the disappearance of the boy and the bear. These transitions are consistently cohesive and well executed; it is clear how much thought and work has gone into the production.

Overall, ‘Goodbye Sun and Bear’ is a show that can only be fully appreciated first-hand. The script is intelligent, the staging is innovative and the acting is assured. It is one of those plays that you just don’t want to end. I could have happily spent another hour blowing bubbles and highly recommend this heart-warming production.

agree
disagree

Comments

Joe Saunders; 7th Aug 2013; 10:52:08

Winter is cold, and sometimes we lose things that are important to us. Goodbye Sun and Bear starts here, and takes us through the snow.

A boy (Luka) searches for a circus bear. Luka’s parents search for him. There is also a drunk, two doctors and a superb split, but I won’t spoil the details. They all seek warmth in different ways. And the show provides just that: the cast is excellent, the live score essential, and the pace perfect. This production allows the script to soar. Just like the bubbles! Well, not mine; they dripped and got soap in my eye.

Audience Avg.

2 votes, 1 comment

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a