POLAR OPPOSITES by Nicole Ratjen (TiltHAUS/Next Stage). At Factory Theatre Antechamber (125 Bathurst). January 9, 11, 12 and 18 at 6:15 pm, January 10, 16 and 17 at 8:45 pm, January 14 at 8:30 pm, January 19 at 4:15 pm. 416-966-1062. See listing. Rating: NNN
The icy weather we humans have suffered during the past week is exactly what the two characters in Polar Opposites long for.
They're two polar bears, dubbed A (author Nicole Rantjen) and B (Stephanie Jung), adrift on a melting iceberg and dealing with their imminent demise in both existential and practical terms.
Part clown show, part perceptive look at how we interact with one another, the half-hour piece is equally absurdist and touching. The show's fun comes from the interaction between A, the controlling, scientific bear in a life jacket who tries to control everything with precise measurements and a gobbledygook of mathematical language, and B, the revolutionary but increasingly despairing partner who sports a yellow sou'wester.
Forced to deal with their diminishing food supply and one-upbearship, the pair - wearing creative masks by Ratjen and Eric Double and patchwork white costumes that suggest the two are moulting - make a classic comic team, whether they're playing a board game, stroking each other's insecure egos or facing an assault by the elements (in the shape of ping pong balls regularly lobbed at them by the audience).
Though some of the scenes could be further developed and the chemistry between the actors isn't yet fully realized under the direction of Rachel Blair and Ratjen, there's lots of intriguing material here, including the occasional sense that we're in Beckett country and that the power of the imagination helps mitigate life in a difficult world.