Polarbear’s new show, Old Me, is a sincere account of a life that has drastically changed in a short space of time. Through his straight forward and articulate storytelling, we are introduced to a host characters from his past and present including a grandmother with dodgy sayings, a straight talking best friend, a girlfriend in London and a bunch of squabbling squirrels to name but a few.
A collaboration of spoken word linguistic artistry, live music and projected visuals, Old Me creates a world where different mediums are seamlessly integrated into Polarbear’s story. This is very much one man’s history; a man who has moved on from his past as a Birmingham construction worker, relocated to London and become an internationally known spoken word artist. But the tale is relevant to us all. Old Me is also about the dilemma of bridging the gap between past and present. Like all of us, Polarbear is both haunted by and deeply connected to his past, and it is this contradiction that provides material for the show.
His tale is told anachronistically as we jump across time zones. We hear of strangers giving him bothersome career advice in his present life, before being taken to his past where his best friend is offering him counsel on some life-changing decisions. Hilarious anecdotal scenes from his childhood are juxtaposed with explorations of the fatherly persona he has with his sons. The narratives are tidily woven together and the fact that it is not a linear piece is not at all an obstacle in understanding or enjoying the show.
Underpinning everything is the writer’s examination of how he has been transformed by his experiences, yet how much he has stayed the same. “You’ve changed,” he says during a mellow, reflective moment of the show. “Everyone’s heard that. Like the point was to stay the same.” And it is upon this premise that the whole piece is more or less built. Every scenario, every anecdote has been carefully selected and, through these snapshots, we see that Polarbear’s journey – like that of any artist – has been one of on-going evolution.
Old Me is showing at the Roundhouse, Camden at 8.00pm until Saturday 3rd December. £5 tickets are available for under 26s in person or by calling the box office. More information and tickets available here.
Read A Younger Theatre’s feature on Polarbear here.
Photography by Idil Sukan