Pursued By Bear
Chapel off Chapel – 8-18 June 2017
Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days follows couple Claire and Jason and strangers Deb and Warren as they search for the beauty in the ordinary and the calm within the rush of New York. Pursued By Bear’s production is memorable and a little bit magical with a standout cast.
Warren (Joel Granger) and Deb (Nicole Bowman), a struggling artist cat-sitting for an established artist and a cynical grad student, meet when Warren finds Deb’s lost thesis notes. To return the notes, Warren asks Deb to meet him at the Met, where he imagines they’ll form a fairytale-esque friendship as he enthuses in the charming Sort-Of a Fairy Tale. Deb, pursuing her “big picture,” initially resists, but allows Warren to coax her into seeing the beauty in his favourite Monet painting. Warren’s unending optimism balances Deb’s cynicism, and the chemistry between the two fresh-faced actors makes watching their storyline unfold a delight.
Also wandering the rooms of the Met are Claire (Brittanie Shipway) and Jason (Matthew Hamilton). Tension builds between the two as Claire pushes him away emotionally, not quite ready to move on in their relationship, culminating in Shipway’s emotionally-charged performance of I’ll Be Here.
Pursued By Bear’s stellar cast make selecting highlights a difficult task. Nevertheless, Bowman shines undeniably, even amongst the talented cast. Despite the frumpy wardrobe choice of oddly-fitting, high-waisted pants with suspenders, Bowman’s wide eyes and impressive vocals soften and bring a hint of vulnerability to Deb. Her comic timing and physicality also impress; her sharp delivery of lines like “you’re gay, right? Twenty minutes” elicit peals of laughter from the audience.
The simple set design ensures the focus is kept on each cast member’s impressive talent. Gauze sheets represent both the tall buildings of New York and the paintings of the Met. The only breaks from the dark set are from the pops of colour when Warren throws fistfuls of flyers with inspirational mottos, thrusting one into my hand.
As I walk out, I glance down at the flyer that I’m still clutching. Never let tall buildings block the way of your dreams. Somehow, instead of feeling cliched, it feels just right.