During Polaris you travel in time and space. Three different stories that take place in the past, the distant past and the future, are presented in short scenes one after the other. Two different types of dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period, two teenage girls during year 10 at a school in 1997, and a female astronaut leading a crew of men in 2096. Have things changed from millions years ago until the future?
The imaginary characters in their fantastical adventures tell the truth about our society. It is a clever and funny play written and performed by Holly Norrington and Teddy Lamb, who are the people behind the Holly&Ted company. Holly&Ted is a female and queer led company with a desire to bring fun and accessible feminist theatre into the community. Ted also ran a weekly Meet-Up Group (6-13 August) at the Fringe to enable trans and non-binary performers to network and support each other.
The two performers, cartoonish cute and with matching outfits, welcome the audience and start presenting the characters and their stories. The dialogue is fast, clever and funny. Irony, sarcasm and topical humour with references to contemporary trends and incidents feature, as well as strong comic body language and occasional audience involvement completing the main ingredients of the play. The sound effects, which are created by the performers live on stage using a tablet and everyday objects (such as a toothbrush, a music box and bowling balls), generate an interesting atmosphere and complete the words of each story. The light effects also play their role and aid the transition between the stories.
The stories, while very different, all intersect with one another thematically. One type of dinosaur tries to impose themselves on the other because they look different, even though they have much more in common than they think. One teenage girl has to put up with the gossip and nasty reactions of her classmates towards her, because she slept with a boy, while he laps up widespread congratulations. A female captain of a space mission is mistrusted by her male crew, which could almost lead to a disaster.
Why do we need to divide our society into strong and weak? Why is it acceptable for a man to sleep with many women, but not for a woman to sleep with many men? Why do men always assume that women need help, or try to force their ideas and explain things to them? Polaris explores all these questions and the deeply socialised responses that go with them. It addresses the fact that conflicts have only facilitated destruction and tries to understand why we spend so much time focused on hate. Polaris is a fun play by a young, talented team, which has a lot to say in a fast pace, but in a simple, easy to understand language.
Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Below (Venue 33)
Until 27 August
Image: Alex Brown-Harvey