Dare to do at The Space by Mark Norfolk is a piece about banking in The City and it supposedly tells the story of Bear, the infamous trader responsible for one of the biggest losses this country has seen. Unfortunately the poetic way of telling this story got in the way of actually telling it and it results in quite a boring and unimpressive piece of performance.
Bear is played by Jaye Ella-Ruth, which is potentially controversial as Bear is written as a male in the script. He is supposed to have alter ego, the trader, which is not portrayed in any understandable way. Interestingly enough, the director, Jeffery Kissoon, didn’t make the change of referring to Ella-Ruth’s character as female, but kept it as male pronouns and male clothes, which takes away the effect of the bold choice of casting a woman for the role. There is a moment when two other women mentions someone behaving like a p***y, and that really highlights the male language at certain work places. Unfortunately the main character isn’t as good as getting that male/female juxtaposition across. There is also an obvious problem with the casting of a white man to play an African man, with outfit and accent and all. If there was a subliminal message, it did not come across.
The story line is hard to follow as half of it is spoken words, half of it they are all playing different characters, half of it is flashbacks that you don’t notice are happening, so no one learns much about The City or Bears effect on it, as well as not being able to understand several parts of the show and how they relate to the rest. It did however comment on the class system and race, when you finally understand a bit of what was happening, which is still a very current matter. The spoken words are unimpressive in the first half but gets better and actually ends up being quite beautiful in the final scene, despite many of the metaphors being extremely cliche.
The acting style felt very much like spoken word performance, which is long for 95 minutes, especially when the whole piece wasn’t in that style. The actors might be very talented, but the choices made prevented that from being portrayed – that said, not knowing your lines properly is hard to blame on anyone else.
Is it a show where you learn or feel anything or react in any way at all? Not really. Is a show where you come out with loads of unanswered questions? Yes – not necessarily due to the script, but it’s adaption to stage was amiss. It’s a cool idea of mixing spoken words with a topic of an industry that lacks creativity in every way, but it was not successful. One could say that this Phoenix should have stayed in its ashes.