The Polar Bears Go Up
Falkirk Town Hall
20 May 2016
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
Inquisitive bears travel near and far
To reclaim fast ascending golden star
Framed within a proscenium arch of green and blue rectangular boxes which tower over a black floor-cloth laced with orange and pink lines to suggest a map, a journey, an awfully big adventure, a polar bears’ picnic of cornflakes on toast watered down with an endless supply of tap water is rudely interrupted by the ringing of a doorbell and the unexpected delivery of a big brown cardboard box which contains … Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s a golden star on which to hang your dreams on.
The Polar Bears Go Up, a co-production between Unicorn Theatre and Fish and Game, and sequel to the latter’s highly successful co-production of The Polar Bears Go Wild with Macrobert Arts Centre, tells the story of two playful Tornassuks (the name Greenlanders use to describe polar bears, meaning “the master of helping spirits”) who out yawn and out sniff, out reach and out jump, out fly and out trampoline one another in their combined but competitive efforts to reclaim the golden star which has escaped their grip and lodged itself in a cotton wool cloud.
Using the minimum of props and maximum of creativity, the two creators and performers (Fish and Game co-founder Eilidh MacAskill and her ever-smiling collaborator Fiona Manson) are a sort of inverse Vladimir and Estragon in that rather than stay put and talk about going, they are forever on the move and bar a few sniffs and belches never utter a peep. Though their personalities and relationship are very similar to their Waiting For Godot counterparts in that slapstick and petty quarrelling is the order of the day. And Eilidh, being the taller of the two by a good twelve inches plus VAT, is curmudgeonly and direct, though never cruel; whereas teensy-weensy Fiona is warm-hearted and amiable, if a tad mischievous.
Despite the absence of words, the target audience of two to five year olds and their accompanying parents were captivated from beginning to end because the characters were likeable, the performers engaging, the show jam-packed with Laurel and Hardy visual gags, moments of surprise and suspense, and there were ample opportunities for the children (both young and at heart) to join in both physically and vocally. None more so than at the end when, after the well-deserved curtain call, a second doorbell rang and – without giving too much of the plot away – the audience had a ball!
Reviewer : Peter Callaghan