Sheldon Elter stars in Bears, the Belfry Theatre’s newest production, running through Feb. 24. Courtesy Belfry Theatre

REVIEW: Bears mesmerizes at the Belfry

Theatrical environmental protest piece sends a clear and entertaining message: Sheila Martindale

By Sheila Martindale

Monday Magazine reviewer

Bears was not around when I was teaching a course on the Protest Poem, but I could have used it. This Belfry Theatre production is one huge protest against the raping of the environment, and it is one of the most powerful shows I have seen in a long time.

Sheldon Elter plays Floyd, who has the main speaking role. He is a big fellow, but we don’t really see how big until he strips his coveralls off at the shoulders, and his muscles positively bulge, gleaming with sweat – this is also a physically strenuous role.

Tracey Nepinak, in the character of Mama, is a quiet and calm presence with a different kind of strength, an effective opposite to Floyd.

RELATED: Belfry play taps into writer’s feelings around his Indigenous heritage

The seven dancers who complete the cast are wonderfully fluid, transforming from bison into otters and many other creatures, as needed. They work together as a unit, calling out a few responses in precise diction. Amazing to watch!

Glanna Vacirca comes out of the dance team briefly as the She Grizzly, and she and Floyd do an effective posturing sequence of the mating bears. Mesmerizing!

I wish I did not have to comment so many times on the excessive use of the F—- word, but it really is overdone here – we get the message loud and clear without it, and it does not add any strength to this extremely cogent show. Matthew MacKenzie, a little editing of your text would have been useful.

One more tiny gripe here – if Michael Shamata and Ivan Habel look to continue parading a no-doubt worthy group of Indigenous folk out at the beginning of this show, give them microphones so we can hear what they are saying.

However, the play itself is never in danger of not being heard – and it is well worth seeing. If you are sick of hearing about pipelines, OK; but do go and hear and see this particular last word about the folly of polluting our planet.

Bears runs through Feb. 24 at the Belfry Theatre in Fernwood. You can find tickets online at belfry.bc.ca, or by calling 250-385-6815.



editor@mondaymag.com

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