God and the Dancing Bear

Dancing Bear is a new production commissioned by Contact and presented as part of Queer Contact Festival 2016.

‘Dancing Bear uses dance, live music, text and drag cabaret to tell a story full of compassion, candour and humour, looking at the often desperate balancing act many gay people continue to face between personal integrity, social acceptance and spiritual peace.’

Technically a preview of a piece in development, the show is remarkably complete; one of the things I love about seeing shows at this stage is that they can be more honest, and make effective use of quiet.  There is always the risk that the more polish applied to the finished piece, the less honesty shows through, and the less time to pause for thought.  Like the best shows of this type (Mighty Heart, Under the Covers), the performance pulls you in, shows you the issues and lets you make your own decisions.   You know that what you see on stage reflects what the company believes.

DANCING_BEAR_003There are ten people on stage, including a live band and a BSL interpreter (Katie Fenwick) who is a fundamental part of the production.  Pace is excellent, with a strong overall arc that draws you into this world before introducing the key issue of sexuality and religion, and highlighting the contradictions and challenges therein.   I like the way that performance styles are mixed and counterbalanced – the wonderful glamour and song of Divina De Campo (Owen Farrow) set alongside thoughtful dance and ‘Dancing Bear’ movement (Andrew Gardiner), honest personal stories (especially from director Jamie Fletcher), clever spoken word, and a powerful questioning of the relevance of biblical passages.

As John Grant sings on ‘Glacier’,

‘You just want to live your life, the best way you know how, but they keep on telling you, that you are not allowed’

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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