Review: In ‘Ye Bear & Ye Cubb’, colonial America takes center stage

The first script performance in colonial America took place on August 27, 1665 in a Virginia tavern. It contains not a single line, not a character’s name, not a whisper of the story. Even its genre – comedy, satire, lumberjack drama? – is lost to time. But its title, “Ye Bare and Ye Cup” survives. The court case also accelerated. Because as long as there has been theater in America, there has been someone to hate it. The actors were immediately arrested, and we know about the drama from court records.

These dregs of history are the leavening agent “Ye Bear & Ye Cub” 59E59 in theaters. Those responsible for the original were accused of public wickedness. The designers of this new version, which includes cream pie and a lot of fart jokes, really don’t know how to behave. created by No. 11 products And Ryan Emmons-directed, “Ye Bear,” a fantasy about colonial themes — chaotic, exaggerated, recklessly competent. It is diligent and generous, with a pleasant approach to its audience interactions.

After an unnecessary dream sequence (more on the script, credited to six company members, unnecessary), the action begins Fox’s Restaurant. William Darby (Steven Conroy, also playing a version of himself) has written a play, and he enlists two friends, Cornelius Watkinson (Anthony Michael Martinez) and Philip Howard (Erin Lamar) and a bear costume (or an unknown person). A real bear, it’s not clear) to make it there. After players are arrested, they are asked to do it again, in full costume, in court.

So far, it has matched the historical record. But while court reports are silent on the contents of the play, no. 11 gives voice to the fanciful version: “The duck is loosed/By Zeus’s beard/The fawn is gone/Are we in a quandary?” (The play’s name refers to Ben Jonson’s masks, a suspected inspiration.) These scenes are unsettling at best, as is the gritty courtroom drama that follows. Clearly, this verbiage is intentionally bad—it doesn’t make it easy to bear. Each character stops the show for a solo. Some of them should. If the script exhibits a good knowledge of theater history, what life in early America might have been like, what excitement these actors may have experienced, or the risks they took in giving this performance — knowingly or otherwise — it never sinks in.

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