Friday, March 1, 2019


Bears is a majestic kind of contemporary odyssey that moves through a varied landscape in order to reveal the complex collision between humans and all that is nature - in particular, grizzly bears. Sheldon Elter as Floyd leads the pack as he delivers an emotionally varied monologue throughout, interwoven with sporadic advice-cum-support from Tracey Neopinak as Mama, a somewhat underwritten role that, although beautifully portrayed, could be strengthened with a bit more dialogue and participation within the action at hand. 
Elter's performance is brilliantly layered as he moves in and out of anguish and delight toward a powerful plea-like moment that ends the play. With the aid of an amazing chorus of eight women dancing/singing through an array of multiplicitous creatures/animals, the journey becomes a form of cathartic performance theatre. Mackenzie brings us, in powerful  often comical terms, the tragic plight of nature as it collides with unnatural 'man' made catastrophe to the forefront. 

The overall scenography, made powerful by a backdrop/environmental design by T. Erin Gruber, with Jackson Pollock like projections in varied hue, gives the action a tremendous power as the central character dances and narrates a contemporary story of pipelines, animals, corporate politics, and spiritual rejuvenation.
The setting comes alive through the projected textures, giving the playing space great kinetic versatility. Bears is a beautiful, haunting, at times frolicking romp through the contemporary chaos of land ravaged by dangerous industrial activity. 

In her opening remarks Nina Lee Aquino, artistic director of Factory Theatre, spoke of the ways in which Mackenzie's play speaks of disaster and impending doom, but also offers hope for a future where physical and narrative journeys can be made that will begin to change crucial environmental factors, saving Earth and its accompanying 'nature' from looming destruction...

Bears - a kind of contemporary morality tale that plays itself out with great conviction, power, and magical visual effect...


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