Polly Peculiar, at Greenside Nicholson Square, is a joy from beginning to end: the sort of play that under normal circumstances you might not be tempted to see. But this is the Fringe, where it’s easy to stretch the boundaries and take a risk, which is precisely what you should do with this delightful show.
Highly imaginative, poetic work
It’s billed as ‘an absurdist, comedic story’, which is the formal, theatrical way of saying it’s bonkers. Clues to this are inherent in the styles and works that have influenced its creation: clowning from Gecko’s Time of Your Life and Caryl Churchill’s fragmented writing in The Striker. But Polly Peculiar is an original work from the pen of Rose Wilson that takes us into a sort of Alice in Wonderland world in which we can look upon the antics and hear the musings of Polly G.Tips as she holds her tea party.
The table is set with the essential teapots, cups and saucers from a bygone age, featuring, in particular, the Staffordshire-style pot in the shape of a house. There is a chair for Polly and two empty ones for the invisible guests in her imagination; an opportunity for the mind to wander in speculation as to who or what they might be. Polly engages with them, pours tea into their mouths and plays the perfect hostess. In an increasingly physical piece of theatre fantasy, she reassembles items on the floor, moves them around and has conversations with two tiny dolls from one of her pots. It’s all done very delicately and she looks delightful in her floral frock.
There are deeper themes which underpin the amusing facade. Here is a woman dealing with issues of mental stability and hyper fixation with a childish staccato voice that suggests repressed development. Despite her belief in the power of her favourite drink, these are not going to be solved by just another cup of tea.
Meanwhile, we can pour ourselves into this highly imaginative, poetic work and enjoy being a guest at one of the quirkiest tea parties ever held.