Review: Polaris

Edinburgh Fringe
Pleasance Courtyard (33) until 27th August

Half an hour before I saw Polaris, I witnessed some casual harassment in the Pleasance Courtyard. His name was Gary, which I found out after his wife, his mates and I gave him a crash course 101 on why shouting at minorities in the street might be considered bigotry. It was frustratingly providential. I was just about to review a show that tackled bigotry, and here bigotry was: proving a need for the show. What a horrific circle of life we live in, I thought as I entered the theatre.

Polaris is three stories, interwoven to form a narrative so tight, you almost don’t see it coming. Holly and Ted play pairs: a pair of schoolgirls, a pair of astronauts, a pair of dinosaurs, trapped within hierarchies anachronistic to their time periods. In a mix of storytelling, stagecraft and live sound design (which sounds far more wanky than it proves to be,) the three stages of existence come to life.

Polaris is simply excellent, well executed and with a strong beat. The stage design is child-like in a wondrously effective way, and the final scene was visual in a way a ridiculous budget just could not compare with.

Though the story hits nails on heads for all of 2018’s politics (#MeToo, slutshaming, xenophobia, border control, middle class white people being a bit shit,) it does so in such a way that eases you open. The story centers friendship and being scared in a way more stories should replicate: with forgiveness and vulnerability. We know that curing society won’t be a quick fix, and that some people should not be given chances they do not deserve, but Polaris leads by example: bigotry that is bigotry overcome by doing better next time.

I don’t think seeing Polaris would change Gary’s mind about pink clothing, femme/masc gender constructs or about feminism, but I think the presence of shows like this continue to broaden minds in the simplest way: one Scotsman at a time. In the end what a lot of us could do more often is to stick up for, and to, our friends. Or, as his mate so lovingly put it, “It’s just a boiler suit, Gary.”
Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 14.55.48

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