Exit, Pursued By A Bear By Lauren Gunderson

Last night, I walked into the  crowded fire theatre not expecting anything from the play I was about to see. It was a private showing of   Exit, Pursued By A Bear, by Lauren Gunderson but to be honest, I almost didn't go. I wanted to stay home with my latest read called Descartes Secret Notebook. I kid you not, it's very interesting and I was right into the part where Descarte had just arrived in Paris after 5 long years of being away.   I knew things were about to happen. After all, I had just finished   A Movable Feast by Hemingway, and it all happens in Paris, doesn't it?

I struggled with the idea of leaving the house. Upset that I had to leave the warmth of the soft fluffly throw, get dressed and brace the awful wind and cold that I absolutely abhor in San Francisco.  After silently complaining to myself all the way to theatre, I tried to let go and forget Descarte and Paris as I entered the tiny open door to the theatre. We said hello to a few people we knew and sat down.   Seeing friends helped a little, I thought to myself, the evening was looking up.

First scene, the tiny theatre goes pitch black, lights up and you see abusive husband, Kyle Carter,   duck taped to a chair by his fed up usually complacent wife, Nan Carter   and her sexpot stripper friend, Sweetheart/Peaches.   The women are in the middle of re-enacting scenes of   quiet suffering and abuse endured by Nan. They are also creating an explanation of why Nan  has come to a moment of retribution with Kyle. The intention for the women and eventually Nan's gay friend, Simon, is to leave Kyle as bear bait. The play goes through some interesting psychological elements, touching on Nan's struggle as an abused woman, to stay or go. I wish Gunderson would have ventured deeper here, I would have preferred to see more than subtext of abuse. Granted, it is an incredibly difficult topic to deal with, but having seen abuse around me, I realize that there is an ugliness to it that needs to be seen. I am not talking about overt violence, but possibly conveying it through the real language of violence.

Most enjoyable for me was Nan's near reconciliation with Kyle. There was a truth to that specific moment as I watched Kyle beg and plead for the love that once was. In that moment, I   felt the   authenticity and complexicity of human character had been captured.  No one is bad all the time just as no one is good all the time. Thankfully, Nan's reconsiderations are thwarted by her friends who know she can not go back.

There are several great moments throughout the play,   as the writing is witty and engaging.  If you are to see a play this fall, I highly recommend checking Exit, Pursed by Bear.