Review: Poles: The Science of Magnetic Attraction (Pleasance Courtyard)
High heels and heavy hearts in Amelia Pitcher’s One Woman Show
This is a title that needs a photo to accompany it. Poles: The Science of Magnetic Attraction would have one believe they were going to a science show until you see the image of writer and performer Amelia Pitcher, blinking in the morning light, and dressed in a crop top and trackie bottoms with stripper heels hanging off the straps of her tote bag. Pitcher’s one-woman play introduces us to Cora, a strip dancer whose personal life is much messier than her professional one.
Photo Credit: TART Theatre Collective
The draw for this performance is Pitcher herself. She has a fantastic stage presence, the kind you expect to hear about through the grapevine and are awfully pleased when you discover it for yourself. Her character Cora is on the one hand borderline narcissistic, but is visible vulnerable and infantilised every time she thinks about the people in her life. You can tell this is a work Pitcher has written herself because she knows just when to pull back, say less, and let her ever-so-slightly-watery eyes do the talking.
The story itself is well-rounded with a host of well-developed characters that flesh out Cora’s life. And whatever can be said about the title, it hits the nail on the head thematically – this is a story about someone who constantly wants to draw people in and at the same time push them away. Loathed though I am to add to the oversaturated pile of reviews comparing one-woman shows to Fleabag, Pitcher’s writing and performance have a genuine Phoebe Waller-Bridge quality to them. That is if Pheobe Waller-Bridge was an Australian stripper. On which point, Pitcher is careful to explore the topic from all angles; the stigma, the dangers of the club, and the practicalities of it just like any other job. She also manages to negotiate difficult conversations about sexual harassment and the line between being a stripper versus being a full-service sex worker, without demonising the latter. With writing this strong, full of comedy and pathos and some seriously impressive character development, Poles is a one-woman show about a stripper that you can take your mum to. Four stars.
Poles: The Science of Magnetic Attraction will run at Pleasance Courtyard in The Cellar until August 29