Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 – Poly Queer Love Ballad

A 75 minute Slam Poetry Musical, that is good even if you don’t like Slam Poetry, Musicals, or 75 minute shows.  poly-queer-Love_Ballad_0202-5

I usually try to avoid fringe shows that are more than an hour.  Even for the most talented and decorated of Fringe performers, by the time an hour has gone by, I’m just waiting for the show to end.  Poly Queer Love Ballad runs at 75 minutes, so it wasn’t on my list.  But after some strong recommendations from trusted sources, I felt obliged to give it a chance.

In a nutshell, Poly Queer Love Ballad tells of the relationship between a monogamous lesbian and a polyamourous bisexual.  The show was structured to carry it easily through it’s 75 minutes, and you’re likely to endear to yourself to at least one of the characters.  The music puts a smile on your face and wins the occassional laugh, and the acting is natural enough to go unnoticed.

Further, the subject matter has been chosen and delivered in such a way that those familiar with the issues will be pleased to see them represented on stage, while those unfamiliar with them will be gratified to have their unasked questions answered.

What I found interesting about this show was that I didn’t feel any real chemistry betweeen the two lovers.  I didn’t particularly want them to be together.

(~spoilers to follow)

I’ve never been able to put my finger on why I want some characters to stay together and why I want other characters to split up.  In this play, I really wanted them to split up — and I couldn’t see what the musician saw in the poet (but maybe that’s because of my aversion to slam poetry).  One might expect that a show like this would depend heavily on the chemistry between its two main characters, but Poly Queer Love Ballad succeeds despite its absence.  The friction between the lovers’ ideals is well-delivered and engaging, and I am tempted to speculate that the lack of chemistry was engineered, to show that the characters were trying to make the relationship work for the wrong reasons.  We get to see the rationalizing, compromising, growth and introspection that come with a difficult relationship, and they’re shown in a relatable way.  While the performance was going on, I started wondering how I wanted to end — what kind of resolution would satisfy me?  It’s not always an easy thing to do.  Even though the movie was good, you couldn’t be satisfied with the end of Jerry Maguire, right?  I mean, I want them to break up, but I don’t want them to be sad.  But sad isn’t the end of the world.  Because we get to see them leave their battleground with their own little sorrow, and we are glad the characters were strong enough to see themselves through it, and out of it.

A carefully constructed and lovingly performed show; you’ll leave the theatre both sad and happy, and wanting to give someone a hug.

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