Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

F*ck the Polar Bears

Tanya Ronder
Bush Theatre

Salóme R. Gunnarsdóttir, Andrew Whipp, Susan Stanley and Jon Foster Credit: Helen Murray
F*ck the Polar Bears Credit: Chiara Stephenson
Susan Stanley and Andrew Whipp Credit: Helen Murray

F*ck the Polar Bears is an uncomfortable combination of eco-drama, psychological chiller and sitcom.

The drama takes place in the comfortable home of Andrew Whipp's Gordon and his younger second wife Serena, Susan Stanley.

In this production directed by Caroline Byrne, it is bounded on Chiara Stephenson's traverse set by invisible walls, of which only the corners are displayed allowing the audience members to become voyeurs.

As the 100-minute performance begins, the well-to-do couple are in seventh heaven as power company executive Gordon has landed a $2.4m job, enabling the couple to buy their dream house.

It is therefore little cause for concern that their daughter's polar teddy bear, Phoebe, has gone missing.

This does at least exercise their Icelandic eco-freak of an au pair Blundhilde, played by Salóme R. Gunnarsdóttir, whose passion for separating rubbish into recyclables could otherwise prove tiresome.

However, in a symbolic supernatural reaction, Gordon becomes obsessed to the point of murderous neurosis as a series of mishaps begins to take its toll on the household.

By this stage, Jon Foster as the poor relation, Gordon's ex-junkie brother Clarence, has arrived to paint the house and apologise for some pretty terrible past misdemeanours while under the influence of assorted intoxicants.

What follows for the next hour mixes the ingredients of a standard horror movie with farcical comedy as Gordon mentally implodes while everyone else also seems to have spells where sanity becomes more bother than it is worth.

After this dose of light entertainment, Tanya Ronder finally cuts to the chase as Gordon is forced to confront his responsibilities to humanity by opposing (or otherwise) the plans that he has been cooking up (at what cost to the ozone layer?) to bribe the Government into allowing fracking.

His final agonised debate with Serena is worthwhile and allows visitors to reconsider their own views on environmental issues. Indeed, a full play addressing matters of such import might have been more welcome than a theatrical smorgasbord that obscures its intentions for too long.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher