Straddling the line between sombre and lighthearted, DANCING BEAR is a powerful and intimate piece

The cast of DANCING BEAR. Photo Credit: Matt Tullett

The cast of DANCING BEAR. Photo Credit: Matt Tullett

Straddling the line between sombre and lighthearted, DANCING BEAR is a powerful and intimate piece

“Life is too serious to be taken seriously.” You might expect more comedy from a play that apparently takes this approach but aside from a few humorous lines, this show is anything but comedic. It straddles the line between sombre and lighthearted, and shifts between songs, surrealism, dance, spoken word, monologues and direct addresses to the audience.

The piece is mostly focused on the idea of LGBT+ growing up with religion, and coming to terms with themselves and their faith. It also tackles the issues of living as a LGBT+ person in previous years and today’s society. This is a powerful and intimate piece of theatre with as many heartbreaking stories as there are heartwarming.

Because of the intimate style of this show, the Palace Theatre felt a little too big for this performance. It would probably have been more suited to a space in the Lowry, the Royal Exchange or HOME, but the nature of this performance just wasn’t grand enough to fill the massive space that is the Palace. However, as director and creator Jamie Fletcher stated in the post show discussion, it’s rare to see LGBT+ performances in a theatre of this calibre, so that is both significant and commendable.

The show also has a number of songs, which are all fantastic as stand alone tunes and lyrics, but when paired with the beautiful singers, harmonies, incredible onstage band and poignant contemporary dance routines, creates a particularly powerful experience.

A particular mention should be given to Musical Director, Ric Neale, who is also an onstage musician and member of the chorus. It is so rare to see someone so obviously having the time of their life performing and it was incredibly enjoyable to watch. Other notable performances come from the aforementioned Jamie Fletcher, Beccy Owen, who also wrote the script, and Owen Farrow, best known by his drag persona Divina De Campo. Owen gives an especially emotional retelling of his experiences. It is both shocking and moving, and it is refreshing to see LGBT+ performers onstage portraying themselves and sharing their own experiences.

The issues the show tackles are not only relatable to members of the LGBT+ community, but also provides new perspectives and insights for people who may not have as much experience with this community. The show recommends itself to everyone, from existing LGBT+, to members of religious groups trying to become more accepting of LGBT+. As a result, this show has something for everybody, and is highly recommended.

(4 / 5)

DANCING BEAR was performed at the Palace Theatre, Manchester on 6 and 7 February as part of Queer Contact Festival