Land of the Ice Bears

ensemble theatre · say yes! collective · Ages 14+ · world premiere · United States of America

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June 25, 2015 certified reviewer

My overall impression

Disclaimer…Due to President Obama’s presence in LA, our estimated travel time from Topanga to Hollywood was way off (2 hours?! Ridiculous). Even though we were 15-20 minutes late, we were graciously, and hopefully discretely, ushered in regardless.

No matter, even lacking the story introduction and development I was immediately drawn in. The intimacy of the small room made for effective staging, an almost uncomfortable proximity to the actors, as if I was eavesdropping on a private conversation between the two characters. That, and the minimal use of props drew the attention exactly where it needed to be – upon the actors. The characters of Mason (Royce Johnson) and Madeline (Shashona Brooks) were captivating, their fluid chemistry ranging from a comfortable familiarity mixed with unexpected sexual tension, to to an emotional disconnect and back again. And though the word is inadequate, they just flowed well together. I also enjoyed the language of the play – point and counterpoint as Mason and Madeline circled, weaved and crashed through the story – lofty and profane, insightful and vague, loving and vicious. (Having missed the beginning, I’d love to read the entire script) And then there’s the body language…I don’t know if the drinking factor was constant from the beginning or progressed throughout, but again, form follwed function. Mason ambled, rambled, stumbled and flowed (that damn word again) in that particular movement of the inebriated – wavering between a careless looseness to a self-conscious attempt to control one’s actions. Madeline seemed to vacillate between projecting and retreating. She was so “there” one moment and then distant and disconnected the next. Her pain and anguish both emoted and then proclaimed. And yes, I do know that the head/heart dichotomy was part of the play’s theme. Well, it worked. And the ending? Kudos to whoever had their hand on the spotlight…perfectly timed in achieving the sense of frozen motion. Once again, I wish I had been able to see the play in its entirety, and I look forward to any future collaborations and creations from any and all of this talented group. Thank you for an entertaining and occasionally disturbing evening…

(I did notice a video camera being employed…hint, hint)

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