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Review: BEFORE I WAS A BEAR (The Bunker)

A big furry brown bear slowly peeps through the doorframe, the audience let out a

little laugh, and before long they are in hysterics. Katy B’s ‘Katy On a Mission’

blasts through the speakers, and the bear goes wild, dancing its way across the

stage. It looks fun, so fun that I want to run up and join in. With the music blaring and

coloured lights flashing, it feels like we have been submerged into London’s hottest

nightclub, but with the coolest bear cutting shapes centre stage. After a while the

bear looks exhausted. The music stops and the bear slowly takes off its head,

revealing the star of this one woman show – Jacoba Williams – who does an

unbelievable job at bringing Cally’s character to life. She’s fun, bubbly, charismatic,

and knows what she wants. Drawing the audience in with her charm from the very

start, she makes it hard for the audience not to like her, despite what is to come.

It’s tragic, it’s heart-warming, it’s everything a coming-of-age story needs. Before

Cally became a bear, her life was even more complicated. From the age of about

fourteen Cally becomes “completely fucking obsessed with sex”, hopelessly falling in

and out of love, until things start to get a little too sticky. Her first celeb crush is

Johnathan Bolt, the star of a Channel 4 drama series, which is full of sex. Like with

any hot celeb crush, Cally becomes fixated, fantasising about him day and night.

Flash forward to the age of twenty four, and Cally finally gets to meet him. It’s a

sticky love affair. No one can deny their childhood crush right? Morals are

questioned and the stakes are raised, as what starts as a fling, soon becomes all too

real for Cally.

Together, Eleanor Tindall’s writing and Jacoba Williams’s acting are a recipe for beautiful

comical timing. Even in times of darkness, things are still kept light, ensuring nothing

becomes too heavy for the audience. Occasional breakaway moments seem

unnecessary, as they break the flow of the piece, and the ending gets a little

confusing, entangled in ambiguous metaphors. Although Cally’s best friend Carla is

never physically present in the space, you can tell the relationship between the two

is strong, as they constantly weave in and out of each other’s lives, throughout the

play. The writing perfectly encapsulates this odd, but loving dynamic between the

pair, and Williams accentuates it wonderfully with her varied characterisation.

The play is unnervingly relatable at times, and is definitely a watch for all you

hopeless romantics out there. So what are you waiting for? Get down to The Bunker

to be laughing from the edges of your seat, as you watch Cally’s whirlwind of an


BEFORE I WAS A BEAR is showing at The Bunker until 23 rd November, tickets are

available here:

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