As the audience walked in to the magical setting of Polly our narrator, Veronica Hare, told everyone to pick up a little note, paper and pens. On each of these notes was written a thing we all had to draw. The list was eclectic, everything from a candle to things that required more imagination like a beautiful place, a room with no fun, a scary house or a picture of our favorite thing. As this activity was completed a harpist played in the corner and created a very calming atmosphere filled with very intensely colouring children. This start to the production was a lovely touch because not only did it get the children involved with the show but also the parents, with many cries of ‘look what I drew daddy’.
Task completed the audience settled down to listen to Hare tell the tale of Polly. Polly is in some ways a companion piece to the Flanagan Collective’s earlier production of William, which was performed in a similar style using the same set, though it is a stand-alone piece. Polly tells the story of a young girl whom a severe woman keeps inside a scary house. Polly lives in a land where imagination and stories are not allowed to exist, but she is a special girl who is prophesied to help save all the people who are creative and, eventually, the world. Through the help of the mystical forces around her Polly escapes from this story to take her place in the wings of another - that of William. Throughout the performance the harpist performed a live soundtrack adding to the mystical ambiance within the whimsical space.
What was a nice touch was that at each point the subject of one of our pictures was mentioned we were asked to hold them up. Hare then improvised descriptions based on our drawings. This subtle method of interaction was charming, allowing the audience to engage with and feel part of the story without disrupting the flow. Hare’s storytelling is very engaging, full of charm and personality, and did much to hold the audience’s attention during the more intricate story moments.
However, the problem is that Polly doesn’t quite feel that it can stand-alone. The idea of having many tales that all interlace is lovely, however, when they are presented separately they should be able to have as much impact independently. Though the story of Polly is lovely the ending felt slightly unfinished and left the audience wanting more.