Hugh M. Casey reviews Hannah Raymond-Cox’s On the Rocks event, Polaris.


Polaris, written and performed by Hannah Raymond-Cox, questions how a person’s identity is grounded in place and people. These questions are posed through intimate revelations of personal family and sexual relationships. In many ways this was a dramatic piece testament to how elusive time is; pasts that were once present, the time we exist in but walking away, crossing the road without glancing back.

Perched on a bar stool, scrolling Wikipedia. Strutting through the bar stools. Staring through the cracked-black yolks in the audience’s eyes. Aikman’s Cellar Bar matched the intimacy of Raymond-Cox’s direct address. The performance was sitting down for the cup of tea she invited us in for. Raymond-Cox does not shy from the honesty of direct address. Nor does she dilute her communication through a lurid disguise of ornate language. Separated by inches, her face from ours and the proximity between the tragic and the comic. Spaced over a number of years, Polaris was not a girl coming of age but rather a humble reflection upon the universal, and the unique.

I have seen Raymond-Cox perform her poetry countless times, yet her words are never tiresome. There is zeal and freshness throughout Polaris – it is not mimetic of her spoken-word pieces. The show does not crudely amalgamate the scenes of a life searching for home. Each movement has continuity and reservation with Raymond-Cox taking us there with purpose and clarity. Pain and Joy, two feet festering within dirty socks, itching to be itched, grounded with each step. Raymond-Cox’s delivery marred the humour with discomfort, patched laughter over distress. There is the feeling that Polaris is not over. Not incomplete, but the immersion in Polaris is so fiercely natural that it is not simply removed after the show is over. I can feel the life continuing just as I can feel the round of the moon when it waning in crescent.

 

Hugh M. Casey