Polaris, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Val is a concerned, elderly citizen of her community. She believes that if everyone followed the rules on refuse disposal and the agreed schedule for mealtimes, every thing would be peaceful and orderly. She also believes that recent arrivals like Tracy, displaced by natural disasters, aren’t her problem.

Val and Tracy are dinosaurs.

Sarah-Jane and Lou-Ann aren’t, though. They’re in year 10. Aoife isn’t a dinosaur either – she’s an astronaut captaining a mission.

These women, human and dinosaur, are fighters. Double standards, gossip, othering, volcanoes and entitled men all try to interfere with what they want but they aren’t having it. Women have been determined through all of time, and will continue to combat misogyny and hate.

Theatremakers Holly & Ted take their time bringing these narratives together, but when they do, the result is a satisfying one. Along the way, there’s plenty of social commentary, live foley and very funny, feminist snark.

Holly Norrington (she/her) and Teddy Lamb (they/them) are playful and fun in their show’s content and delivery. Their storytelling is engaging and accessible, rather than angry and confrontational. Though the latter kind of work is necessary, this piece would be a great one for younger teenagers starting to deal with the social expectations that come with puberty and the differing reputations that accompany girls and boys rumoured to be sexually active. It’s also an encouraging watch for young women as they start to consider careers in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Despite its suitability for older children, this whimsical work is still relevant to us grownups. Val’s behaviour towards Tracy pointedly criticises governments’ treatment of migrants and the pervasive xenophobia in the UK and elsewhere. The other characters’ behaviour asks us to reflect on the nomalisation of sexism that both men and women perpetuate, even those of us woke folk actively working towards equality.

Polaris runs through 27 August.

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