Pros: Polarbear weaves an entertaining and engaging narrative in this spoken word piece.
Cons: Some of the outcome of the story is unclear, and there is much that is open for interpretation – which I’m not sure I find satisfying.
The evening is a one-man show performed by spoken word artist Polarbear. Polarbear is a storyteller who weaves rich and detailed worlds out of thin air using lyrical word play and a hip hop approach to telling his story. Polarbear is alone on a sparse stage – all he needs are a crisp white backdrop and alternating bright and dimmed lighting to break up the portions of his narratives.
There are two narratives here – that of a 28 year old man in a dead end job, and also that of a lonely 10 year old boy missing his father (who has recently abandoned him.) They share interests – a fascination for footballer Diego Maradona, an admiration for super-hero Batman and both have a crush on a beautiful classmate named Jess – but the biggest passion that unites the two male characters is a love for writing.
The boy’s love for writing is what links him to his deserting father. He is curious— bordering on strange – and begins to follow the 28 year old man around town to try to use the man’s life to write a story (a task which in many ways is in order to reach his father). In doing so, he uncovers a tragic romantic triangle which inevitably has devastating results.
There is a lot about this performance that is open for interpretation, particularly with regards to understanding the existence of the two narrators. The boy and man are near identical characters, yet are at different stages in their lives. The stories dovetail, beautifully, but it is unclear to me whether or not each actually exist independently of each other, or if the 10 year old is merely the younger 28 year old and they interact which each other in a strange space-time continuum.
What is clear is that Polarbear does an immense job of bringing the stories to life. Using just his words, we are able to visualize the buildings, the characters, their lives. The descriptions are clear, and easy to believe in. I’m certain I know what the block of flats in which the narrators live in looks like by the end of the tale, and I’m impressed by the vividness which which this world appears.
The storyline is rich in regards to both boy and man. There’s a clever twist to the plotline which is gut-wrenching given that the boy is aware of it (even if he doesn’t realize the implications of what he has observed) but the man is either unaware or deliberately avoiding acknowledging what he may know to be true – and what has then been true his entire life.
It’s certainly entertaining . Even if I didn’t have a clear grasp on the mirroring interactions and what’s real and what isn’t. The ending is also not overly clear, although the tragic element certainly is. The storytelling is sharp, the ‘lyrics’ flow wonderfully, and there are some genuinely funny lines on display. It’s a lovely exercise in modern-day storytelling in what is a moving coming-of-age narrative.
Director: Yael Shavit
Booking Until: 21st February 2015
Box Office: 02072232223
Booking Link: https://www.bac.org.uk/content/35392/see_whats_on/whats_on/shows/if_i_cover_my_nose_you_cant_see_me