Bears, in dream interpretation theory, are a symbol of renewal and rebirth. Or, alternatively, of obstacles. Being attacked by a bear, in one theory, represents anger and having problems with anger management. As you can see, dream interpretation is hardly an exact science.
Nevertheless, when a man is charged with murder after being caught red-handed and says that he is not guilty because ‘the bear did it’, it doesn’t take genius to work out what is going on.
Our heroine, Angela, however, is not so quick on the uptake. A solicitor’s clerk sent to persuade the prisoner to give more details which might help to support a ‘not guilty’ plea, is led into a noir-ish plot in search of bear sightings which might lend credence to his literal story. It takes her feisty Aunt Gloria to put her onto the truth by pointing out she is asking the wrong question. So seventy minutes later we find the sleuth wrestling with her own bear in the middle of the night.
This two-hander tries to combine detective story with psychoanalysis. It can’t be said to succeed on either level, mainly because of uncertainties and inconsistencies of tone. The sleuthing element yields some nice detail about the English legal system, but, having set up the 1940s Chandler parody at the opening, fails to sustain it. When we move to the psychological interpretation which suggests that the bear is in Angela (and by implication, all of us), this too is unconvincing in that there is nothing in anything she says or does previously which suggests unresolved anger.
The story is played out on an arresting Perspex set which allows for some nifty lighting effects. The action moves swiftly under Lee Simpson’s direction, with Guy Dartnell playing all the other characters Angela encounters in her search for the truth. These could do with much sharper delineation, especially in vocal quality; Dartnell’s Irish accent in particular leaves a lot to be desired. Angela herself is engaging enough in her narration to the audience, but could do with more pace and variety. The most successful aspects of the production are the atmospheric score by Nick Powell, and the Bear effects suggesting the shadowy monster.
However, nothing can disguise the fundamental flaws and inconsistencies in the writing and the concept.