Ed Fringe 2014 | 'Bears in Space' – Collapsing Horse
Collapsing Horse’s 'Bears in Space' is a shambolic, riotous and bizarre production – in a good way. We follow the journey of two astronaut bears on their way to a hospital planet, hoping to cure the ailing girlfriend of the captain. They have been brought out of stasis by their awkward control robot (very reminiscent of Gemini from Mark Gatiss’ Nebulous) who has become lonely.
The show begins and ends with some well thought out shadow work, showing a title screen and credits, which help to enforce the madcap, low-budget TV space adventure vibe. In fact, one of the most successful things about this production is how well everything fits together visually. The shadow screens, the puppeteers’ costumes (futuristic-style spandex), the narrator’s shoulder pads and the sparse, slightly ramshackle set all fit exactly within their genre. Another thing that works well is the live music and vocals – a lot of the theme music is sung a capella.
The plot isn't as cohesive. Although for the most part it makes sense, there are some distracting inconsistencies and nothing is really concluded at the end (although the credits do imply the story is ‘to be continued’). For all the farcical elements, there are also some moments of real tenderness between the characters, especially in a sequence exploring the backstory of the main antagonist. There are times when it's reminiscent of The Mighty Boosh, although not with quite the same aggressive weirdness.
For the most part the puppetry is all that it needs to be, and 'Bears in Space' is definitely worth seeing if you’re in the mood for comedy. Those looking to explore deep philosophical themes should probably look elsewhere but, despite its shallow elements, it’s one of my favourite shows at the Fringe this year.
'Bears in Space'