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Hollywood Fringe Fest 2024: Murder Blood Bear Story Part 2

Murder Blood Bear Story Part 2 (a “stand-alone sequel” to Murder Blood Bear Story) is heartfelt and well acted but perhaps a little too precious for its own good. The story follows Blue (writer-creator Katelyn Schiller) who has forged a friendship with a grizzly bear, which seems to symbolize Blue’s quest for happiness (she has named her friend “Happy”). However, Happy is not all that Blue needs to be happy; seeking to reconnect with someone from her past, she leads Happy out of the woods and into civilization, with results that eventually justify the play’s title.

The set up is intriguing. Blue is too naive to grasp the dangerous nature of her furry friend, and for a while Murder Blood Bear Story Part 2 almost feels like a weird take on Gentle Ben: what if that friendly giant were as dangerous as a real grizzly? The people Blue encounters react in a variety of ways (Schiller plays all the roles in the one-person show), ranging from matter-of-fact (a bee keeper who recognizes the thief who has been stealing his money) to terrified (a woman relaxing by a stream in the woods). The inherent threat goes unrealized until Blue takes Happy into a dinner, where a waiter refuses service…

Schiller is great – not only at performing Blue but also at puppeteering the bear. While playing someone lost in her own world, she manages to connect with theatergoers; there is even brief audience participation. Schiller also does a good job playing multiple humans in conversation – at least as long as only two characters are involved. Once Blue enters the diner, it gets more difficult for the audience to keep track (one characters looks at Blue and says “You again?”, and we are not sure whether or not this is someone we have met earlier in the play).

The audience briefly gets into the act.

Murder Blood Bear Story Part 2 takes the audience on an interesting journey filled with whimsical touches (a coffee cake recipe bar code on a grave stone); unfortunately, the destination is unsatisfying. Exactly how we are supposed to take the story is not precisely clear. It appears to be intended as a metaphorical quest for happiness – almost a fairy tale – that takes a literally grizzly turn. The script cannot adequately resolve these two poles: on the one hand we are supposed to feel that Blue has found happiness with Happy, and everything would be great if other people would just understand; on the other hand, the inevitable bloodbath undermines this message, leaving Blue to find her ultimate happiness elsewhere. The message may be that Blue has outgrown her earlier naivety in favor of something more mature, but where she ends up feels just as fanciful. Still, we have to give the show credit for referencing the recent man-or-bear debate, coming down heavily on the side of the bear: “Choose the bear over the man every time.”

Murder Blood Bear Story Part 2

Rating Scale

1 – Avoid
2 – Not All Bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See

Metaphorical one-person show mixes naivete with a dangerous threat to interesting effect, but resolving the contradictory aspects proves a bear too far.

Murder Blood Bear Story Part 2 concludes its run at Hollywood Fringe Festival with a final performance on June 28 at 10:30pm. The venue is the Broadwater (Studio) at 1078 Lillian Way in Hollywood. Get more information here.

Credits: Katelyn Schiller: actor, writer producer, art and graphic design. Paul Bugallo: producer, director. Steve Troop: creature builder.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.