The Bearpit

Glimpses of a toxic relationship. Snapshots of a dying planet. Dark vignettes of love as the end draws near. The Bearpit, from new theatre company Kopfkino, combines these ingredients into a relentless interrogation of generational cynicism and the human connection in a physical, deeply atmospheric piece of theatre.

The darkness and intensity of The Bearpit make it a hard watch, but the quality of acting and the unique vibe of the script make it well worth it.

A bare set, with minimal costumes and tech, draws focus to the script and the performances. Flora Marston and Nic McQuillan have developed something special, an intoxicatingly moody series of dialogues which swing between pacey hyper-realistic interactions and impenetrable, almost Sarah Kane-esque storytelling. The density of the text constantly threatens to spiral into the incomprehensible, but strong performances from both McQuillan and Marston always keep it focused and engaging. Both capture the subtleties and depth of their characters wonderfully, and the stage chemistry between the two is palpable. Most importantly, they expertly overcome the occasional jarring shifts in the script and manage to tell a story, at least of sorts.

Story takes something of a backseat in The Bearpit. There is a plot; the descent of a happy couple into a twisted, broken wreck of a relationship is mirrored by the slow death of the planet after a human-caused ecological disaster, but specifics are rare and explanations even rarer. Descriptions of place and action are vivid, but rarely contextualized in relation to the other scenes. Plot, however, is not the point. Instead, The Bearpit focuses on mood, on creating an unsettling, fatalistic atmosphere for the audience. And this it achieves with style.

This style isn’t quite matched by the production design however. Minimal works for this play, but the bare floor and unfocused general wash get a bit boring after a while. With just a bit of set-dressing and a more involved lighting design, The Bearpit could have made more of an impact visually. Additionally, the physical elements of the play left something to be desired. Despite the tension they added to the piece, sharper execution would have helped to make these moments land better.

The darkness and intensity of The Bearpit make it a hard watch, but the quality of acting and the unique vibe of the script make it well worth it. 

Reviews by Jared Liebmiller

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The Blurb

The night is young. The world is ending. The relationship is exploding. The Bearpit is about love, destruction and the meeting point between disorder and togetherness. Flora and Nic appear to have the perfect relationship but privately are completely atomised. As they goad and manipulate each other into ever more compromising scenarios, eventually the illusion must crack. Weaving movement, original music and text into a two-person show, Kopfkino's debut piece interrogates what we tell ourselves to be true versus the reality raging beneath the surface.