Review: Dancing Bears – Charged, Soho Theatre

Part of the Charged season at Soho Theatre

“You got to show them that you ain’t messin’ around”

I can’t really say too much about Dancing Bears as I heard so very little of it. Sat where I was by the staircase up to the bar, the ambient noise of chatter and the music playing obscured most of the dialogue for me and in a tightly packed space, there was nowhere I could have moved to without causing considerable disruption. Compared to Dream Pill (for which I was sat on the opposite side of the room) where the level of hubbub helped the piece as it was set in the basement of a similar establishment, I could not see the same logic as we were set in a non-specific outdoor scenario where the noise made no sense to me. Additionally, our seats were awkwardly placed so much of the action with the injured Aaron was lost to us too: so all in all it was a shocker of an experience and really rather unsatisfactory.

Which was a shame as from what I could see of the play, it was interestingly set up. Looking at gang violence both through the perspective of young men, as the performers all initially arrive in hoodies playing boys, one by one they strip off the tops to become young women, sisters, girlfriends, comrades of the boys who ostensibly are sick of the lifestyle thrust upon them by men, only to form their own equally damaging little group, capable of just as much horrific violence. Ony Uhiara managed to stand out amongst the din with a physically intimidating performance as both a boy and girl whose lives are dominated by the idea of their gang as ‘family’ and unable to accept anything but total dedication.

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