"Bear Girl" -- a brand-new play -- is a dynamic show performed by the talented Prenzie Players of Davenport.
It tells the tale of how Bear Girl, daughter of a Sauk chief, burns with the certainty her mother still lives as a prisoner of the Down Belows, her people's enemies. A young man comes and talks of going to war, which gives Bear Girl the chance she needs to manipulate family and friends into taking action by promoting him as a leader, instigating an epic struggle for control of the Midwest.
Bear Girl's rise to an important position of power also is illustrated, along with a young man's journey to becoming Black Hawk, a faithful warrior highly admired by his people and feared by his enemies.
The actors capture the rigid life of the Native Indians and incorporate a raw interpretation of what life might have been like for them. The proud writer J.C. Luxton made sure to create as accurate a story as possible. Using information gathered through extensive research, he portrayed the story through the views of women, which is unlike many who have endeavored to peek into the lives of the native people. Viewers will be treated with action-filled battle scenes, inspirational speeches, personal insight to the fantastic mind of Bear Girl, and shocking revelations of the Indian lifestyle.
Jen Brown excels in portraying the strong-willed Bear Girl, with her powerful voice and acting. Her performance provides a sharp contrast with the other female characters as she demands the time and respect the women of that time were not thought to have deserved. All throughout the play, her people are coaxing her to quiet down and leave such matters as war to the men. She exemplifies the battle the women were in against the men, within their very own close-knit tribes.
While other women have strong personalities, only she prevails in letting hers guide her rather than smothering it into submission. Ms. Brown successfully masters her character's fiery passion and ambition to be recognized as a smart, strong and mindful member of the tribe.
The other actors also do a wonderful job depicting their unique characters. Angela Rathman flawlessly plays Water Lynx, a feisty woman wise from age and experience. Jake Walker dominates in his role of Black Falcon, a prideful warrior pitted against more than the enemy nation, the Down Belows. Cole McFarren impressively encompasses Yellow Thunder's relentless drive to achieve greatness in his tribe as a warrior. Maggie Woolley kicks her character Molting Feather into high gear with her spunky attitude and shocking behavior.
All the actors do a splendid job pulling together to bring to life Mr. Luxton's historically inspired script.The show as a whole is a doozy, as it is made up of three acts and lasts about two and a half hours (with 10-minute intermissions between each act). Viewer discretion is advised as this is designed more for a mature audience; some scenes involve violence, a few characters use colorful language, and there is a stirring birth scene.
Nevertheless, it is an intriguing production that will have you laughing one moment and gazing with sorrow the next. A black box theater space is utilized, so the excitement is intensified as you watch up close and personal the events that unfold before your eyes.
In fact, each audience member receives information about his or her own character, a member of the Sauk nation, who is directly addressed during speeches and meetings. For anyone interested in experiencing this uniquely refreshing portrayal of Bear Girl's life and of her people, be prepared for a riveting performance of bold acting.
If you go
-- What: Prenzie Players' "Bear Girl"
-- When: 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday.
-- Where: QC Theatre Workshop, 1730 Wilkes Ave., Davenport.
-- Tickets: $10, at the door, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 309-278-8426.
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