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Up, up and away!

Review: Polar Bears Go Up ◆
Awesome Festival, Heath Ledger Theatre, 5 October ◆
Reviewed by Nina Levy ◆

Polar Bears Go Up opened to a small but enthusiastic audience of under-6s and their accompanying adults on Wednesday morning. There’s no question that this whimsical work hits the nail on the head with its target audience.

Created and performed by Eilidh MacAskill and Fiona Manson, Polar Bears Go Up is a simple tale. There’s a tall bear (MacAskill), a small bear (Manson), and a shiny, floating, golden star. When the star escapes into the ether, the polar bears must go… up!

Tracking that runaway star. Photo: Richard Davenport
Clad in all manner of furry accoutrements, topped with goggles, MacAskill and Manson are utterly delightful. Back-scratching, tummy-rumbling, spoon-and-cup drumming antics are all highly relatable and entertaining to young viewers and parents. The duo’s cartoon-like facial expressions and gestures lend a touch of slapstick to the proceedings, while Greg Sinclair’s whimsical score turns milk-bottles into pan-pipes and plates into DJ turntables.

The bear-pair come up with increasingly outlandish ways to reach their lofty goal, with plenty of laughs along the way for young and old alike, as they bounce and boogie their way to the top. Sinclair’s evocative soundscape beautifully illustrates the airy, buoyancy of the stratosphere, the rumbling drama of a rocket.

The bear-pair come up with increasingly outlandish ways to reach their lofty goal. Photo: Richard Davenport.
Of course, the best way to judge a work for children is by the opinions of those children. My two-and-a-half year old companion voted with her feet, choosing to remain pressed against the seat-backs of the row in front of us for most of the 50 minute work… as close as she could get to the action. Thoroughly engaged, she had many suggestions for the furry players.

Gentle and magical, Polar Bears Go Up is perfectly pitched for the two to fives.

Polar Bears Go Up plays until 7 October.

Top photo: Richard Davenport

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