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Mark Bradbury as David in Polar Bears. Photo by Katie Kelley.
Mark Bradbury as David in Polar Bears. Photo by Katie Kelley.

Polar Bears
Presented by Left Edge Theatre

Dec 5, 2019
by Jeanie K. Smith , San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle


It might be true that everyone who grew up with a Christmas tradition can remember the precise moment when they quit believing that Santa Claus was real. It’s equally true that parents can remember when their child found out, or was told, that Santa is not an actual person and those presents under the tree didn’t magically appear courtesy of a chimney-hopping bearded old man. But there’s no manual to say exactly when that should happen, and the father in Polar Bears  does everything he can to delay disbelief as long as possible. An endearing script with both humor and pathos pays tribute to the holiday and parenting, running for just a handful of performances at Left Edge Theatre

 Mark Bradbury as David in Polar Bears. Photo by Katie Kelley.

David (Mark Bradbury), father of two young children Jenna and Andy, is determined to make Christmas magic last, at least until his children figure out on their own that Santa is just a lovable legend. David remembers his precise moment of disbelief when he was just 4, and wants his own children to enjoy the magic and mystery far longer, creating elaborate rules and ruses, treasure hunts and tricks to keep them under Santa’s spell. 

David (Mark Bradbury) converses with his daughter Jenna. Photo by Katie Kelley.

When family tragedy strikes, grief threatens to overwhelm Christmas traditions, but David doubles his efforts to make the holiday meaningful and filled with Santa. Waging an uphill battle filled with somber and sunny surprises, David must come to terms with reality — his very real children — and his own holiday dreams. Gentle humor throughout mitigates the melancholy, creating an amusing antidote for holiday doldrums.

Bradbury brings his excellent acting skills to the role, mimicking his children, department store Santas, and David’s storytelling father with aplomb. Opening night felt as though he still hadn’t settled into the character fully; a thorough professional, he will no doubt blossom into the role with future performances.

A special angel tops the tree in Polar Bears. Photo by Katie Kelley.

This is the fourth iteration of local playwright David Templeton’s popular play, and his second time directing it. The script could use tightening in mid-section, but its overall warmth and charm carries a meaningful theme and sweet holiday spirit. 

In only 75 minutes,  Polar Bears  can definitely help put you in the mood for tree-trimming and baking cookies for the Santa in your house.

Polar Bears

By David Templeton, Presented by Left Edge Theatre 

Through Dec. 15, 2019

Wed at 8:00pm, Sat at 4:00pm, Sun at 7:00pm

Tickets: $28-42

Left Edge Theatre

Studio Theatre, Luther Burbank CFA

50 Mark West Springs Road

Santa Rosa, CA 95403

(707) 546-3600


Photos by Katie Kelley


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