Dancing Bear, Dancing Bear, Friday 24th February, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Reviewer: Alice Townsend.
I wouldn’t recommend going to see this performance if you’re a prude. When you walk into the theatre there’s two fully naked men facing you on stage. Fortunately they warn you the performance contains nudity just before they put their clothes on.
Dancing Bear, Dancing Bear is a two man show and the men don’t speak for the whole performance. Instead, we listen to the voice of Hannah Ringham on headphones: ‘I’m the only woman in the show’ she tells us, ‘but I’m in charge’. She heckles the men, orders them around, muses over male and female bottoms and creates various scenarios where their genders are blurred and relationships are toyed with. By having a woman ‘in charge’, dictating how these unknowing men are feeling and doing, the performance gives us an alternative gender power structure. Whilst the men are voiceless and often physically vulnerable, the female is absent from our gaze, instead being allowed to comment on the action and guide our opinions and perception of it. By silencing the actors on stage, the focus is put on their physicality; at one point the taller man swings around the shorter, creating an image which could be considered either intimate or aggressive. There’s something hypnotic about the movement paired with the voiceovers stories and musings.
Overall, the piece could be considered confusing and slightly disjointed. It’s easy to leave the theatre feeling surprised and confused. There’s no plot or chapters, and the voiceover switches between ideas constantly. Regardless, it does serve as an interesting discussion of gender and how we relate to each other, and goes about it in a unique and memorable way.
by Alice Townsend