Bear North

Bear North is an intimate, folky concert led by a man wearing a giant furry grizzly mask on his head. I realise this sounds strange, but bear with me (terrible pun intended), because if you can accept that fact, along with a dancing buffalo and the brief appearance of a wolf, then you’re in for a treat.

The concert will leave you feeling a precious little bit happier.

Despite said eccentricities, it would be difficult for even the most closed-minded, straight-laced and orthodox individual to resist being caught up in the friendly atmosphere created by the four performers and their genuine rapport. Somehow, these endearing relationships on stage are projected onto an audience who end up leaving with a kind of fellowship which certainly wasn’t present before, when the awkward British pre-show muttering usually prevails.

Although as it happens, before the opening the show, the bear, Roy Hutchins, introduces himself to each audience member individually, chats about why they came, and offers them a free CD. As if a freebie wasn’t enough to charm, he later incorporates what he learned into his dialogue, suggesting, for instance, that the man in the back row who was curious about the music notices the instrument Sue Bradley will be using for percussion during the next number.

As well as percussion and some supporting vocals, Bradley plays the fiddle with a moving poignancy, although this may be partially attributable to the ten songs, all of which are original and by turn amusing, stirring, and bizarre. The narrative they all gently correspond to transports you to a timeless Canadian wilderness. While the upright rows of seating are a world away from the rustic campfire setting the performers reportedly requested of the venue, they don’t it feel it when the experience ends, and ‘experience’ it certainly is: without being long or complicated or desperate to please, the concert will leave you feeling a precious little bit happier and more appreciative than before. Don’t believe me? I should tell you that during the piece intended to play the audience out, nobody bothered to move, preferring to stay and clap along than potentially miss the end. It got to the point where the musicians had to remind us several times that we weren’t supposed to still be in the room.

Plus, if you fancy saving yourself a few pounds getting in, there is a 'concession rate for anyone dressed as an animal', and I am sure the performers would be delighted.

Reviews by Monica Yell

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘Twin Peaks’ meets ‘The Singing Ringing Tree’. Wonderfully absurd, with a dancing buffalo, wolf and grizzly bear. Conceived in a dream by multi-award-winning performer, Roy Hutchins, this utopian vision is whimsical, comic and moving. Journey through a landscape filled with log cabins, forests, mountains and magical waterfalls, drawn through clever riffs and augmented fiddle playing, harmonies and dance.

"Songs of lakes, firesides, and bears. An impossible odyssey." Highly Recommended. (Fringe Review).

“The tables were turned and it was me who danced to Bear North’s tune” **** (Fringe Guru).

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