REVIEW: Lonely Bear @ Ottawa Fringe 2012

In Garkin Production’s Lonely Bear, a man with a brother finds a bear and disturbing things happen.

Writer Ray Besharah and director Stewart Matthew tell you about Lonely Bear:

Trouble with the video? Watch directly on YouTube.

What. The. Fuck? But – a good, what the fuck, I think. The moment you walk in to Lonely Bear you’re faced with the set – a simply artistically daunting set of red and white curtains draped around the stage. The lights come up and Siggy (we’re assuming Sigmund Freud); played by writer, Ray Besharah is being tortured by a fat man. Then we go back in time, Siggy’s doing a European tour for his new book when his plane crashes. He survives, meets a baby (lonely) bear in the forest – and takes him home with him; where he teaches him to talk. Then the media, who already demonize Siggy’s doctoral psycho-sexual explorations – also get a hold of this bear story.

What sells this story is the absurdity of it. The script is clever, the 3-man cast is one of the strongest I’ve seen at Fringe so far, and the dialogue, with the times that it’s fast paced and others where it’s deliberately thoughtful, is perfect. Where this play falters is where the TV show Lost faltered – it’s so absurd and complex that it leaves so many more questions than answers… and sometimes – you just have to try and overlook it.

One thing that particularly stood out was the excellent fight choreography – it rivalled some of the big, professional-company stage productions I’ve seen and was practically breath-taking. I loved Lonely Bear… my wife not so much. This is a play that will divide people right down the middle, but I’m on the side of love and giving it a 4.

Allan’s  (slightly late) followup:

Let’s start with the cast. Loved them. Ray Besharah shows a great skill for playing dramatic roles of the type we don’t often see him tackle and was fully captivating as Ziggy. Jordan Hancey as the brother wasn’t in too much of the show but was also solid. And Zach Counsil played a number of roles with believabilily. The staging was also interesting and the tableau-styled scene changes was inspired. Fight choreography and the “siege” scene were also highlights. Music, too.

The material? Colour me on the side of disturbed. It was so dark and bleak and disheartening and without any rays of hope at all shining in through the red curtains. Just down and down and down and down. Unlike Matthew, I didn’t see a Lost-type anything. It all made enough sense in the context of what it was. It was just bleak and dreary. Very, very bleak. Amidst all the torture and anguish, I can’t muster more than a three.

- by Allan Mackey

Matthew Champ

About Matthew Champ

Matthew Champ is the lead reviewer for Production Ottawa's review team, Should You See It, making sure that whether it's local theatre or the latest Hollywood blockbuster to hit theatres, you know whether or not it's worth spending your time or money on.

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