Dare to Do (The Bear Maxim)
Reviewed – 30th May 2018
“Unfortunately the production falls short of its potential”
They call him ‘The Bear’. In the world of finance he is unafraid to take risks, a giant on the 65th floor where the higher the elevator takes you is a clear indicator of status, “the black boy from Tottenham who took on the city”, Bear says of himself. But when he is let go by the firm because “my face doesn’t fit” his life spirals desperately back down, and soon he is transferring the rules of the finance world to the streets of London. An acute commentary on racism within the world of finance, as well as a scathing observation of a world and a people obsessed by money, this should’ve been a topical and moving story. Unfortunately the production falls short of its potential.
Mark Norfolk’s writing moves between conversation-based realism and spoken word, but the poetry is not brought out in the characters’ delivery. The rhythm and pace required of this style of writing is lacking, and moments of humour in the script are often lost in performance. Moments of uncertainty jar the performance – hesitations as lines are nearly forgotten that affect the production’s flow for example, but this is likely to be ironed out as the run continues.
The set (Alfie Heywood) is basic but functioning, but the lighting (Chuma Emembolu) is bizarrely literal at points and a more subtle design would’ve better complimented the space. The projections on the back wall could have been used more as they work really well, but needed to be more regularly integrated into the production as a whole to create a more coherent piece. At the same time, the projections are sometimes at odds with what the actors are saying and details such as unrealistic typing mean a certain slickness is lacking from the production.
To its credit, this production is an exemplar of gender blind casting. Bear is played by Jaye Ella-Ruth who is consistently convincing, portraying cut-throat trader alongside adoring husband and father, propelled forwards by an impressive tenacity and self-belief. Greater investigation into the emotional depth of the Bear’s character would aid this portrayal. I think this comes back to a question of pace. Where the spoken word moments require a greater rhythm and drive forwards, Bear’s emotional moments require more space around them, a moment to breathe. Bear carries the play, joined by actors rotating parts – a predominantly competent and supportive cast.
This is a script filled with potential and a production that is trying to do some really interesting, but it falls unfortunately short of where it is aiming to reach.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Dare to Do (The Bear Maxim)
The Space until June 9th
Previously reviewed at this venue