Bear Hug is an exceptional new comedy written and directed by student RG Mackenzie. In this play of crossed wires, the main character Alex is organizing a house party in order to win the love of his dreams, whilst his parents are deeply concerned about their son’s sexuality. They take desperate and hilarious measures to get to the truth.
I had no idea what to expect at the start of this performance. Even though RG Mackenzie has been very involved in student theatre – this is his third show, after all – I had never seen any of his productions. However, I was instantly drawn in by a convincing opening monologue from Alex, played by Jared Liebmiller. Liebmiller was a sudden burst of energy on the stage and his monologue was delivered with confidence and wit. He was consistent in his performance throughout, and I particularly enjoyed his nervous humour.
The scene then cut to his parents in their bedroom. I did not quite see the motive behind having these two characters frozen on stage whilst the audience entered the Barron, as it did not appear to add anything to the production. However, the simplistic bedroom scenery worked well to set the scene. I also loved the comedy created by the parents, played by Will Costello and Sarah Pollock. Costello had a great knack for sarcastic humour, which was well contrasted by Pollock’s hilarious anxiety, and they proved to be a great double act for the entire performance.
All the actors in this piece brought their characters to life with energy and comedy. However, I think the real success was RG Mackenzie’s script. His writing allowed for outrageous laughs that left his audience in stitches. He used lots of short scenes in different parts of the stage following quickly on from each other to create absolute chaos on the stage. The plot moved along nicely, with consistent humour. The only thing I would change about the piece was the slightly random dance sequence towards the end of the play. To me, this interrupted the flow, and the actors arguing in time to the music looked slightly strange. Despite this, the production was overall incredibly strong.
I would definitely recommend this production to others. It makes for a fantastic night out, and I promise you will be laughing from start to finish. I hope that RG Mackenzie brings us more of his work, as I for one would be first in line for a ticket.
Carla van der Sluijs
Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/events/1483869411880197/