‘Don’t you see,’ Jeremy tells the Apocalypse Bear, ‘it was about who we are now and about our childhoods at the same time.’ This concept of duality is at the heart of Lally Katz’s Apocalypse Bear Trilogy. A narrative that stretches across time and space, forcing audiences to consider matters both dark and mundane – from domestic comedy to sexual violence – Katz’s absurdist play is equal parts hilarious and thought provoking.
Brendan McDougall and the team at Periscope Productions do an impressive job of interpreting Katz’s absurdist text, notably the introduction of a chorus of semi-anthropomorphic, teletubby-esque bears. The bears open the play and interact with the audience throughout, giving the viewer a sense of stability. Their timing and physicality need to be commended, as does their commitment. They are a constant presence on the stage, which shows an intense level of focus, and gives them a depth of character in a play with only four speaking roles. The bears also move the set, at times pulling a large white sheet up to signal the end of a scene – a brilliantly simply set design with faux-grass and smoke machines adding to the dream-like state of the play.
Angus Dowell who played the Apocalypse Bear did well in a difficult role, despite his delivery being muffled by the bear suit. Maddi Cullen was perhaps the strongest of the three leads, putting in a solid performance as Sonya and the Woman. There were times however that the nuances of Katz’s text were lost in delivery, as an emphasis on the play’s comedy occasionally failed to reveal the subtleties of the text. However the cast grew into the production — in particular Eric Gardiner who played Jeremy and the Man — with an exceptionally strong final scene, a culmination of the text’s mocking of the bourgeois and investigation of existentialism.
Periscope Productions has done well in their interpretation, and should also be applauded for their decision to take on such an interesting, modern and local play.
Periscope Production’s The Apocalypse Bear Trilogy ran from the 10th- 13th August in the Guild Theatre.