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Review – Poignant One-Man Show ‘Polar Bears’ By Alexa Chipman

Vibrant garlands and glistening lights festoon storefronts and neighborhoods in December. For David, holiday enthusiasm has become an obsession. His imaginative, careful planning ensures a perfect fictional Santa Claus for his children, with detailed rules like “packaging from ‘Santa Gifts’ must be disposed of at least two blocks away from the house.” When the festive spirit is clouded by a sudden, tragic loss, he struggles to maintain the magic for his family, as they face a new, sorrowful reality.

Tightly written by local playwright David Templeton with witty wordplay and a heart-wrenching message, ‘Polar Bears’ will bring you to tears and rekindle a childlike appreciation for Christmas.

Chris Schloemp is captivating as David, with unflagging energy. He brings to life a kaleidoscope of characters, from wide-eyed children chewing on truffles to burly firemen, altering his voice and body language with skillful precision.

Set in a cluttered attic, Templeton’s direction utilizes everyday objects to further the story. A battered holiday wreath is used as the steering wheel of a car and an adorable stuffed bear becomes David’s young daughter, Jenna. The clever use of props keeps the play lively and visually interesting during Schoemp’s monologue, grounding it in an environment conducive to reflecting on the past.

‘Polar Bears’is not a razzle-dazzle production; it is quietly moving, with beautiful imagery. “Love fills in the cracks” David muses, thinking of his family’s tumultuous relationships. If you are looking for a compelling, unusual play this holiday season, consider ‘Polar Bears’ for a memorable evening.

Presented at The Belrose through December 15 Fri/Sat at 7:30pm

1415 5th Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901

Presented at Left Edge Theatre on December 23 Sun at 7:00pm

Left Edge Studio Theatre at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 (707) 546-3600

Photos by David Templeton.

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