Hannah Raymond-Cox brings an intricate mix of storytelling and poetry to take us on a tour of her life – growing up in three different countries, being queer, and all the complexities that come along with that. In Polaris she effortlessly tells us her story, performing characters including family, classmates and strangers off the street, drawing the audience into every scene. Despite her only prop being a simple chair, I really felt I was in that hotel room, that gay bar, that London street, that shower at boarding school, which goes to show her talent.
Polaris is exemplary queer, feminist storytelling
Although the show only lasts 50 minutes, a whole host of issues are covered. From coming out as bisexual and experiencing bi-erasure at a club from other women, to mental illness, first loves and manic pixie dream girls, Polaris is a whirlwind coming-of-age tale but without the fluffy storylines and happy-ever-afters you see in the movies. Beautifully realistic, relatable and funny, Hannah conflates all these different yet difficult parts of life into a flowing and emotional story that every young (and old) woman can relate to.
Not keen on making the audience comfortable, Polaris touches on difficult and uncomfortable issues in a very mundane and matter-of-fact way, particularly mental health and suicide. Slipped into the show at unsuspecting moments, it might make you jolt a little, but it works, somehow, with the rest of the storytelling. Good stories have a way of making the uncomfortable feel comfortable in context, and this is no exception.
Like much of spoken word, intricate rhyming poetry is used as a storytelling technique in Polaris, however one thing I rarely see is acting used in conjunction with poetry. Hannah merges the two seamlessly, jumping from monologue to character within seconds, making it seem easy. This is a talent not to be missed. Polaris is exemplary queer, feminist storytelling – and half of all profits go to LGBT Youth Scotland, which is an added bonus.