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DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: Polar Night – The New Theatre, Dublin

Writer: Nadine Flynn and Aaron Stapleton

Director: Aaron Stapleton

Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy

Set in an undisclosed town in Northern Europe where the sun ceases to shine in winter, Polar Night explores the impact of darkness on one dysfunctional family. Rose (Myrn Devaney) hasn’t seen her mother Helen (Noelle Brown) in ten years. Arriving on her doorstep in the depth of winter, the audience learn that Helen, unable for the personal and social pressures of motherhood, left her family to seek a new life abroad.

Depictions of motherhood and mothers are never lacking in Irish theatre. It is a theme that continues to inspire and fascinate this country’s artists. However, as this is such a well-worn trope, another production on the problematics of motherhood needs to excel to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, Polar Night doesn’t quite hit the mark here.

The production builds a solid and necessary tension between the characters, and the juxtaposition of light and dark between the set and the segments of film enhance the idea that light is being swallowed by darkness in this place. The use of film adds an eerie depth to the piece, but is under-utilised.

At times the writing is rather stunted and there is too much valuable time wasted on needless exits and entrances. The interpersonal dynamic between Helen and her partner Ulf (Jack Walsh) gives the audience something to sink their teeth into, piquing this reviewer’s curiosity. This is worth developing. The chemistry between Devaney and Brown never wholly satisfies the obstacles their relationship must overcome and leaves the piece wanting.

There is a certain charming naivety to this work which makes for a pleasant viewing experience. There is definite potential for development here. Ultimately Polar Night does not quite justify its place in an arena that is altogether too cluttered.

Runs until 23 September 2017 | Image: Contributed

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