True to its name, Bears in Space is about bears: bears that are in space. Yet Eoghan Quinn’s larkish comedy, part of the Origin’s 1st Irish Festival, is basically down to earth; it wants only to amuse, and it does so very appealingly. A tetchy narrator, the Story Keeper (Cameron Macaulay), plays guitar in the corner as his three dim sons use threadbare—threadbear?—puppets, costumes and props to play all the roles in a tale of ursine astronauts (the amiable Quinn and the versatile Aaron Heffernan) who emerge from cryogenic hibernation to face off against a cowardly boy-king from the planet Metrotopia.
The villain is played with peevish gusto by Jack Gleeson, who was the poisonous Joffrey in Game of Thrones, but this is not a one-star show; it’s a constellation—Ursa Minor?—where everyone gets a chance to shine. Quinn holds the center as a Slavic-accented polar bear with a mysterious past and an even less certain future. Heffernan, who also designed the shaggy puppets, does a range of wacky accents (including Scottish and Mexican ones), and Gleeson doubles as a socially awkward computer and a maniacal cannibal. Amid the colorful side characters, dopey-clever jokes and sci-fi goofery, a few lessons are eventually learned about friendship and courage, but it’s all in silly, adorable fun. Bear it and grin.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam
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