Saturday, January 11, 2014

Review: (Toronto) Polar Opposites (Next Stage)

Bye Polar
What’s the opposite of absurd?
by Jason Booker

Polar Opposites. Promising title.

About polar bears. Aw, that means it’s a cute pun. That sounds like fun.

But wait, it’s really an absurdist piece squeezed into a smaller corner of a theatre lobby. Okay, why not?

With actors wearing masks that cover only their noses and cheeks to play the polar bears? Sure…
And these two polar bears are trapped on a shrinking ice floe. So that makes it a play about global warming or something like it then.

Except that they are being absurdist. Meaning they have to argue about something, so let's make it about the one piece of food they have left in their mini-cooler: a sandwich. 

Don't ask why polar bears have a mini-cooler.

Yeah, so, uh, it’s also a bit pretentious, even when it tries to be cute.

Oh, and don’t forget the basket of ping-pong balls on every second or third seat. You’re meant to throw those at the performers (there’s a guide for how to do it in the program, in case you’ve never seen a ball before in your life) every time the Ship Captain blows his whistle.

Got the picture yet?

No, neither did I.

I don’t even know what the ship is – the audience area? – nor how it fit into the narrative as the polar bears play games to determine who is the leader and who gets to eat the final sandwich and what comes after they empty the mini-cooler.

Even though it’s a short piece at 30 minutes, it wears out its welcome fairly quickly and barely earns any laughs. At one point, I wondered if maybe the ping-pong balls were being pelted out of frustration. Or if the guy asleep beside me maybe had the right idea.

The piece does not disturb, challenge or discomfort, as a good absurdist piece should. This bit of performance art simply manages to confuse and left me wanting to escape.

Not sure how this got past the jury for a theatre festival, it seems more fitted to an art gallery as a conceptual piece that even then might not quite connect.

Polar Opposites is at Next Stage to Jan. 19

1 comment:

  1. I liked it. A lot. I felt that it was poignant, intelligent. funny and fun.


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