Review: Dancing Bear @ WYP
I was delighted to get a chance to see another version of Dancing Bear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and for it to be given the main stage in which was definitely a developed version of the show. Brought to the stage by “Jamie Fletcher & Company and co-produced by Contact it was certainly a musical extravaganza with original music, songs and dance.
With the premise of the piece being around a Bear who loses his fur as he begins to dance and faces a myriad of emotions as he aims to discover himself it provided contrast and somewhat welcome relief to the personal narratives of the cast sharing their stories of acceptance; religion and issues such as mental health. Their stark honesty about personal experience cast a light on prejudice and discrimination from within the “community” as well as externally.
The staging is simple and uncomplicated presenting the perfect back drop to what I can only describe as a raw performance from Owen Farrow (drag persona Davina De Campo). As this is the second time I have seen a version of the show; I felt Owen had matured into the performance making it more commanding and engaging. I was also delighted to get another chance to hear the performances of Beccy Owen! The layered performance was brought to life by Katie Fenwick who seemed totie the piece together through her movement and use of British Sign Language (BSL) and her own story, she was outstanding.
Although the piece was set to educate and perhaps even disturb; or at the very least challenge some of our preconceptions the view of faith felt a little contrived at times. In a show design to accept and celebrate difference I was left feeling that there was no juxtaposition between faith, gender and sexuality at points feeling a little preached to, less about the words and more about delivery style.
They are complex issues and although woven together at times could be perceived as contrived and one was left having to remember these were personal journeys and not reflective of the LGBTQQIAAP world as a whole but a personal voice. All in all it is was an enjoyable performance and it will be interesting where it develops to next.