By Sandi Durell
Pity the poor puppet bears – a scraggly polar bear and a more scraggly koala – and their little female Captain bear Lazara (ill and still frozen after 700 years in a little box), and other, all in their space ship SS Quickfast now out of energy and caught in the orbit of Meterotopia, run by a crazy, evil dictator. Oh my!
Picture four nutty, madcap and inventive performers who are darkly humorous – Jack Gleeson, Aaron Heffernan, Cameron Macauley and Eoghan Quinn – as they race from one thought and character to another as a computer, puppeteers (Macaulay on guitar as narrator), their imaginations running wild, searching the universe for a cure for their little captain, in this frenetic implausible story in 80 minutes of non-stop freaky, surreal theater from Collapsing Horse, the company founded by Gleeson and Heffernan (puppet master and builder).
Will they find a way to outwit the dictator who has thrown one of their own into a prison filled with other little squawking puppet creatures? Will Captain Lazara awaken? Will love find love?
The set is a messy bit of wooden slats that make up cubicles for all the parts and pieces of accessories necessary to enhance the craziness; the ensemble of bedraggled looking actors exude a charm that fits in just perfectly. You’ll laugh out loud at some of the bits; especially clever the home-made drawings and cutouts that serve as shadow puppets. It’s all very makeshift and . . . very bizarre and very brave!
It also helps if you’re in the 20 to 30 something age bracket (from where most of the laughter came) to fully appreciate the insanity and silliness of Bears in Space at 59e59 Theaters. They’re part of Origin’s 1st Irish Festival.
Bears in Space thru October 2 – www.59e59.org 212 279-4200 running time: 75 minutes
Photos: Idil Sukan