Aside from the witty wordplay and somewhat engaging performance, Polaris does not quite hit home with its broad sweeping statements in its attempt to tackle far too many issues.
Despite engaging the audience early on with sharp observations and the occasional joke, Sophia Walker’s spoken word never gets into gear after a promising opening. This is in part to do with the unfortunate trope of spoken word that it develops a very distinctive narrative voice, then fails to vary or challenge this in an explorative way.
Following the story of an unnamed character as she leaves an abusive household, comes out at a toxic boarding school, then moving away to university and attempts to negotiate her anxiety, Polaris is in danger of attempting to tackle every issue and not consider any of them. Essentially, all the issues raised are important, and Walker hints at relevant ideas surrounding them, but never fleshes out what she is saying, resulting in a half-baked performance.
While uncertainty and discomfort are definitely well created and maintained, Walker occasionally does not allow herself or the show to settle into itself and jumps from point to point with little depth.
On the other hand, the overly performative retelling of this story does raise provocative ideas in the realms of performing gender and sexuality, which is on the tips of the tongues of many theatre-makers at the moment. Walker does a good job of making us play witness to her hyperbolic sexual self-expression, but it would benefit from extending and developing what it begins to say.
We have heard what men think about sex for a very long time, it is long overdue that this changes, Polaris is a step in the right direction, but possibly not the right step, its lack of believability might limit it from doing anything. But then again, who am I to say?
Polaris is at its best when exploring language as a liberator but also an oppressor, and when it is not trying to be anything more than honest and truthful and it does have something powerful underneath it all. 2/5
Review written by Charlie Froy.
Polaris was shown on Thursday 5th December 2019 at the Albany Deptford Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…