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Polaris review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘endearing but thin sci-fi fairytale’

Polaris at Pleasance Courtyard. Photo: Alex Harvey-Brown
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What links an astronaut in 2096, two girls in year 10, and a T-Rex in the Cretaceous period? In Holly and Ted’s sci-fi storytelling show, the issues at hand are misogyny and xenophobia, and they take a long view. Hatred of the other is something that has preceded us and will stick around for centuries yet.

In matching stripy tops and dungarees, Holly Norrington and Teddy Lamb navigate a set consisting of a custom-built foley table, a wheeled stage lined with shimmer curtains and fairy-lit pot plants, intercutting three stories and cueing a flitting soundscape live from the stage. They have a flair for design and a taste for kitsch – the show is one of the prettiest I’ve seen of its scale, and it’s all done with appealing style and charm.

The stories themselves, however, aren’t quite complex enough to sustain the hour. With a whimsical fairytale tone, the dinosaur strand turns out to be a pretty blunt allegory for immigration (Val the T-Rex flees a volcanic eruption and finds herself in a community of hostile velociraptors). The stories only deal in broad brushstrokes, and just as they begin to pick up steam, they coalesce into some neat take-home points about tolerance and empathy.

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Endearing but thin sci-fi fairytale by a company with style