From their cosy flat to deep space, The Polar Bears Go Up stages a small-scale odyssey to rescue a balloon, switching from everyday routine to a full-blown chase sequence across any and every form of transport.
The polar bears are a physically-minded pair: powered by their senses, they sniff and snack their way around the stage. Affecting a big bear/little bear dynamic, Eilidh MacAskill and Fiona Manson create a cosy chemistry that makes for a real charmer of a show.
Lee Lyford’s direction is largely choreographed to an immersive score by Greg Sinclair. With dialogue kept to a minimum, the music is communicative and invokes a playfulness as the bears go about their daily business, before taking on a dream-like quality on their discovery of the balloon. The show as a result is easily accessible to all ages, although on occasion younger audience members may be confused as to what exactly is going on.
Once the bears are in pursuit of the runaway balloon is where the show really comes into its own. Props are used simply but effectively to show them scaling trees and taking cable cars to make their way higher into the sky (detailed on a height chart to map their progress). Despite the excitement of the chase, the play still feels very gentle, but MacAskill and Manson’s stage presence is cheery and silly enough to keep the audience on board no matter where they go.