Category Archives: Reviews

Before I Was a Bear

★★★★★

The Bunker

Before I Was a Bear

Before I Was a Bear

The Bunker

Reviewed – 14th November 2019

★★★★★

 

“Jacoba Williams is a powerhouse. She has an infectious energy, a warmth and an honesty and a bluntness that it is impossible not to connect with”

 

Before I Was A Bear is a surprising, funny, moving piece of brilliance on stage. A dancing bear opens the play, by which I mean Jacoba Williams, our performer, in a head to toe bear costume. She pulls the head off, and places it over a red light that shines through the bears eye sockets. This is just one example of Martha Godfrey’s fantastic lighting choices that constantly reinvent the space the play is taking place in.

“I’m Cally. And I used to be like you,” Williams says. She is talking, of course, about the time before she was a bear.

Eleanor Tindall’s play takes us on an unpredictable and captivating journey that delves into friendship, the awakening and navigation of sexuality, how older men look at young women, bad sex, good sex, straight sex, queer sex and celebrity worship to name but a few of the stops on the way. Based on the Greek myth of Callisto, Tindall uses a decidedly contemporary voice to talk about gender inequality, slut shaming and isolation.

Jacoba Williams is a powerhouse. She has an infectious energy, a warmth and an honesty and a bluntness that it is impossible not to connect with. Her lively direct address to the audience is splintered by moments of bear – scratching, trying and failing to open a packet of crisps, pain. These moments are shaped by different lighting combinations which silhouette and shadow and illuminate Williams alternately. The set, designed by Grace Venning, is minimal, two painted blocks with red undersides that echo the bear heads red eyes. The production is beautifully crafted as a whole, credit to the skilled and cohesive direction of Aneesha Srinivasan whose handling of pace is spot on.

‘Before I Was A Bear’ is a bold, comic, dark piece that is showcased in a flawless production brimming with talent.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Tara Rooney

 


Before I Was a Bear

The Bunker until 23rd November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | October 2019
We Anchor In Hope | ★★★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half)

★★★★

The Bunker

I Will Still Be Whole

I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half)

The Bunker

Reviewed – 14th November 2019

★★★★

 

“a gem of a play, soft and lyrical and full of promise”

 

I will still be whole (when you rip my in half) opens beautifully. The two performers begin to tell the story, together, sharing sentences, before they become its two protagonists: a mother who left her newborn child after a hellish pregnancy, and her now grown daughter, in search of her mother and in search of herself.

The script is delicately written by Ava Wong Davies, skipping between the ornateness of poetic language and the brutality of everyday experience. It dives between their stories, only to bring them together in the final scene for the reunion of mother and daughter, a reunion that one has looked for and one hasn’t.

The two performers balance each other so well under Helen Morley’s direction. Tuyen Do as Joy has a lovely softness to her, which compliments the harshness of the decision she has to make to hold herself together. Contrastingly, we get to meet EJ (Aoife Hinds) on a night out, alone apart from the girl she is kissing, then alone again apart from a fox in the road, then alone again apart from the firefighters and residents gathered around a house going up in flames. A surreal, neurotic journey that echoes her emotional state.

There are points where the pace suffers, the energy dulls, points that don’t demand our engagement and attention. But its tenderness is also part of its charm when the balance is right.

The set, designed by Grace Venning, unites the two characters visually – even before they meet – through a tree branch both of them see from the window of the bedroom they have consecutively lived in.

This is a gem of a play, soft and lyrical and full of promise.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by  Fran Cattaneo

 


I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half)

The Bunker until 23rd November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | October 2019
We Anchor In Hope | ★★★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews