Review: The Write Bear

Monologues by nature, involve a character alone and outside of their context and therefore an unrealistic privacy from which unusual psychological details are revealed. Many of the (student) writers for The Write Bear picked up on this as a jumping point from which to explore the idea of speaking out – of sincere, private confession.

Elf Lyon’s venomous piece portrays a sister daring to express the hatred of the sister that shows her up with anorexia. Rose Wardlow’s performance is easy and true, and at her first entrance she commands such incredible atmosphere, making her so human as to charm us, even with her hatred.

Edmund Cuthbert’s writing also explores what is revealed in privacy, with his original idea for the unfolding of a self and a story through the re-recording of voice messages. They overlap and erase each other in the manner of a realistically contradictory self, each recording enlightened by those before it. The boundary involved in private revelations is emphasised when a message is accidentally saved and his confessions become public.

Private lives are taken in a different direction with Tash Dummelow’s piece, written somewhat like a stand-up comedy routine in terms of its constant laughter-pushing punch lines, with the addition of a charming character in an intimate setting.

Ben Behrens has the audience raring to laugh from the very beginning: his entrance suspends us in silence, while we watch him ponderously prepare himself a bowl of cereal without explanation – a clever prop use as the odd intimacy confused the audience into nervous laughter. By this time the audience is bubbling with curiosity and his first unexpected line on the subject of bees releases a wave of laughter into the audience. Ben Behrens’ impeccable comic timing and Hannah Horan’s close direction do well to realise the writer’s distinct vision on a seemingly odd topic.

Mike Ross’ piece brings the private out in a different way, by his character’s oblivion to his exposure and the pain felt by the audience on his behalf, despite, or because of, Freddie Morton-Hooper’s intelligent choice to play it with cheery sincere naivety. The use of sensitive motifs, such as the simple showing of his backlog of notebooks recording the responses of passers-by to his heart-wrenchingly optimistic waving, contribute to our sadness at overstepping a boundary of privacy.

Emily Wells’ piece has an imaginative premise that captured my affection by its simplicity. It is so honest in its smut and played so sweetly and warmly by Nathalie Mayne that I was full of affection by the time of the racy punch line – “I wanna f*** on a tardis”. The intimate setting of The Wardrobe Theatre is perfect for the comfortable exploration of a diverse range of ideas. Beautifully acted, and some serious talent amongst these writers – be on the look out for more original writing from them.

Originally published by Bristol Theatre Review