The Apocalypse Bear Trilogy

RACHEL TOOKEY is pleasantly surprised by what she finds in the woods of The Apocalypse Bear.

apocalypse bear trilogy charlie merriman jeremy sawyer Matt Clayton pete skidmore Rachel Tookey

Corpus Playroom, until Saturday 20th October, 9.30pm, £6/£5. 

Dir. Matt Clayton

Any play that opens with a man in a bear costume silently entering the stage creates a lot of expectations. Luckily, The Apocalypse Bear Trilogy lives up to them.

Here, the fears and dreams of childhood meet the realism and anxieties of adulthood. Featuring school children recently separated from their husbands, the world evoked forces us to look past the ordinary. And the dialogue is bitingly clever. It provides a unique and surreal take on the hidden fears and anxieties of suburban life, challenging the principles of modern life and subtly exposing the lies and hypocrisies of its characters with ease. For, as The Apocalypse Bear constantly reminds us, the crazy and scary is never that far off.

Freddy Sawyer is without doubt star of the show, doing a terrific job as the deliciously creepy Apocalypse Bear. His comedic timing and cartoon-like speech are excellent. Special credit, too, must go to his improv skills; during the mass coughing fit that broke out, that Sawyer casually coughed a couple times too was a nice touch. While the electric chemistry between Pete Skidmore as Jeremy and Sawyer makes their opening dialogue the best in the play, Sawyer’s scene with Charlie Merriman as the Postman is also a highlight. The line ‘even so, I won’t come in’ is one of the evening’s funniest. If you want to get the joke, check out the show.

Though mostly strong, the dialogue occasionally becomes tedious. And while The Apocalypse Bear creates great tension on the stage, Skidmore and Victoria Fell (Sonya) couldn’t always maintain it on their own – though convincing as a couple suffocating in their lies, their scene in bed drags on a bit. Overall, though, Fell and Skidmore deliver their snappy, cutting lines with panache, and the climax of the play is superbly executed.

Director Matt Clayton does a great job of pulling the whole performance together. The use of atmospheric music next to the actors’ sometimes weighty, sometimes care-free lines gives an added level of tension. The scene transitions are quite slow, but otherwise the performance is carefully crafted.

The play is a trip out of the ordinary and definitely one to watch for any fans of the surreal. The humour is fresh, original, and well delivered; the plot twisted and clever. It’s well worth the cost of a ticket. If you’ve ever been afraid of the woods – hell, if you’ve ever even been afraid, this play just might teach you a thing or two.

Photography by Nick Rutter.