Theatre review: Ray Mears

Ray Mears
Ray Mears

Ever wondered what to do when confronted with a grizzly bear in the wilderness? Well, if so, Ray Mears can definitely help.

Having married an outdoorsy, fleece-wearing man who hails from the bear populated state of Colorado, weirdly, this conundrum has troubled me a few times during visits to the USA. A strange experience for a Northamptonshire lass.

Not that I have ever met a bear, but I have wished to know exactly what to do should that occasion present itself. And I have often feared that the girly items I usually have with me on walks are probably woefully inadequate when it comes to fighting one off.

So I was secretly quite pleased that hubby dragged me off to see his favourite TV survival expert, Ray Mears, at the Royal & Derngate last night as part of the tour An Evening With Ray Mears - The Outdoor life!

Known for his many television survival series such as Track and World Of Survival, Ray is generally seen as an expert when it comes to bushcraft.

And, as it turns out, he has had a close encounter with a grizzly bear in the wild. So what did he do? The worst thing you can do is to look directly into the big, beautiful eyes of the bear so he lowered his own eyes, bravely turned his back on the animal and walked slowly away. Hence, today, he is alive to tell the tale.

The story was just one anecdote among many told by Ray during the evening of bushcraft and survival stories he shared with an audience of fans in Northampton.

Ray’s style of delivery is somewhat old-fashioned, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In an age in which theatre shows are packed full of support acts, musical interludes, showy effects and gimmicks, Ray’s tour really stands out.

He walks on to a stage decorated with equipment such as snow-shoes, a canoe and camera, he stands in front of a big screen showing an image of a beautifully serene river and he starts talking.

As the minutes unfolded, and the pictures changed on the big screen, I could feel my general pace of thought slowing down and matching the relaxed speed of the show. As it did so, I started to really listen to what Ray was saying and found myself fascinated with his pearls of common sense wisdom.

He talked about everything from the perils of crocodiles to the extraordinary bushcraft capabilities of native people in remote locations.

I found his section on conservation particularly interesting as he discussed the detrimental impact human hunting practices have had on species and how the threat of disease to Tasmanian devils is being countered by insurance colonies set up by dedicated individuals.

Throughout the show, Ray’s respect for bushcraft practices and the natural world in general really shone through. It made me want to jump on a plane again and head off to Yellowstone National Park or the Rocky Mountains. At least I might now know what to do if I meet a bear.