REVIEW: Bear With Snow, Bank Street Arts

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As temperatures plummet in Sheffield, this timely offering from The Bare Project is innovative, interactive fun.

This unique experience has the audience following the cast members around four separate rooms in the venue so they are not just close to the action, but fully immersed in it.

Apprehensive that it would be all gimmick with no substance, I was thankfully proved wrong as the players presented a gripping story about a circus bear who goes missing in a blizzard.

There are several interweaving plots. Two street people bump into Luka, an eight-year-old boy who has regretted freeing Alpa, the bear. The bespectacled bohemians have to refrain from their fruity, ‘Moore and Cook’ banter to concentrate on rescuing the lad. One considers the graceful stagger of his favourite whore, for example. Luka’s world-weary circus parents are hot on their heels and the bear trainer is discombobulated by guilt.

The most entertaining segments involve the surreally, silly, stripping, pseudo-doctors. A combination of positive thinking and mind over matter keeps them warm and the punters amused. Their war-cry “soleil” seems to work as sunshine “torches” interrupt the snowy “shredded paper”.

Spectators are adorned with green or purple scarves and taken for first and second sittings of simultaneously running scenes. Dialogue and viewers’ reactions filter through the venue as we anticipate the unfolding drama.

One brave patron volunteered for a dose of hula-hooping with impressive success. I survived the psychic’s identical, predictable prediction for all her customers – hypothermia.

On the contrary, I left the theatre with a feel-good glow.